It happens on multiple occasions over the winter season here in Pennsylvania. The weather reports an impending snow storm and a mad rush to the grocery store ensues. Shelves are cleared of all kinds of items, but especially milk, eggs, and bread. Personally, I think the first staple that needs to be stocked up on is coffee. Enjoying a good hot cup of coffee while watching it snow is one of life’s simple pleasures.
This scenario is played out in many other northern states as well over the winter months. The rather funny part about all of this is that, with today’s infrastructure, it is highly unlikely that one will be snowed-in for days on end. Even when I lived in a very rural area for a number of years, most roads were cleared within twenty-four hours of a snow storm. Yet, the mere mention of snow has people preparing to be buried for days and setting up supplies in their homes like some sort of apocalyptic bunker to endure Snowmageddon.
However, with roads being cleared and things being back to normal typically within a day’s time (not to mention the often inaccurate weather forecasting), one wonders what the reason is for all of the panic. I’m going to make a suggestion. Listen and see if this resonates with you. I believe, for many people, it’s not really panic people are experiencing, but instead, it is hope.
I believe many people are not as much experiencing fear of being snowed in as they may be of hoping they are snowed in. Why? Because our society runs at such a high pace and we are constantly trying to cram more tasks into our schedule that we want something to cause a shut-down so that we can stop. We are desperately looking for a break and we need something to make that happen. We require a reason to be confined to our homes and our pajamas with nothing but snacks and Netflix to be concerned with.
All week, every week, we run and run and run. Our jobs demand time and overtime with little consideration that we work in order to live, not live in order to work. After work, however, kids must be shuttled to several different extracurricular activities all the while doing their hours of homework during the car ride (because we are also training them to become busy little bees like us). Of course, there are also tasks that must be done at home and to the lawn and the volunteer work and so on and so on. We’ve become so busy that we now praise the ability to multitask thinking that doing several things at once is somehow better than concentrating on one thing at a time and doing it well.
The fact remains, however, that we were not made to run at this pace and though we wear our busy schedules like some sort of badge of honor as we attempt to declare ourselves more busy than our peers, we really don’t enjoy it. We need a break. We want something to stop the cycle and give us a respite for a day or two. Hence our hope in an impending snow storm. We internally smile at the idea of not being able to leave the house for work or take the kids somewhere. We imagine a day of sweatpants and movies to watch or books to read while wrapped up in a blanket with a large cup of coffee. The best part of this daydream is that it all comes to us guilt free because we cannot go anywhere. We’re snowed in!
The simple fact is that we need to rest and reset, and we need to do it more often than once or twice a year. This is how we were designed. Therefore, when the Lord formed the nation of Israel, He gave them a command requiring rest. Exodus 20:8-10 reads, “8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.”
God scheduled a weekly day of rest for His people. It was a day to be made holy to God and a day to rest from one’s labors without feeling guilty about getting nothing accomplished. Of course, over time the command was twisted into something to create strife so that a man could not even walk a certain distance without breaking the Sabbath. Today there are those who demand the Sabbath can only be on Saturday (as it is the seventh day of the week) instead of Sunday when early Christians started observing it marking the day of the Lord’s resurrection. But as Jesus plainly told His critics, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
Now, we do not live in a society that observes a Sabbath. Our culture is all about filling the schedule. Yet, even disciples of Christ don’t really observe a Sabbath any longer. Many cannot seem to keep a regular week day, like Sunday, holy unto the Lord. Church gets pushed out for other things on the schedule and even if church is worked in, there are often tasks and appointments and events to be attended right after the last amen. The Sabbath is rarely holy and it is rarely a day of rest.
If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ living in a culture that observes no Sabbath, you are going to have to be the one who makes that happen in your family. Society is not going to do it for you like ancient Israel’s society did. You have to choose to hollow the day, make worship important, and then create a day of rest from all the typical tasks and activities of the week. That will certainly come at a price, but if you do it correctly and consistently, you may not have to hope for a snow storm to provide it for you. With all of our busyness, we need a day each week to reflect back upon God and then to rest from the demands of our schedule. Just think about that for a bit.
Until next time, may your coffee, your contemplations, and your Sabbaths be rich and fulfilling.