This morning my Bible reading plan had me in Exodus 16-18. Exodus 16 is where God begins to provide manna and quail for the Israelites to eat during their 40 year jaunt through the wilderness. His instructions, given through Moses, were to gather as much as they needed for each day and not to keep any of the manna overnight. Some people didn’t listen and tried to store it overnight anyways. They awoke the next morning to terrible-smelling manna filled with maggots.
So it was established pretty quickly that manna didn’t keep overnight. Then God dropped the bomb on them – every 6 days they should gather enough manna for two days, because none would appear on the 7th day. God wanted his people to honor and observe a Sabbath, a day of non-work where God would provide fully for them. But wait, manna doesn’t keep overnight, God… Right?
When I read that this morning, it hit me – observing Sabbath is, and always has been, an act of faith. For a workaholic (most pastors included – we love what we do!), to take a day to completely withdraw from work-related activities is almost inconceivable. We feel like if we’re not in the office, or if we’re not available at a moment’s notice, then things will fall apart. It’s partly an ego issue – “If I’m not there, stuff won’t happen or needs won’t get met. No one else can do it but me…” But it’s also a faith issue – “God, even though it makes me nervous, I’m going to trust that you know what you’re doing in requiring me to take some time off to rest. I trust that you’ll provide for me.”
Did you catch that? Observing Sabbath is a faith issue. Trusting God to provide enough, even when we take a day off from work…
So, I’m going to try to do better with this, and I encourage you to do the same. Take a leap of faith and really and truly take a day off work. Leave work at the office. Turn the cell phone off. Put your foot down with your boss if you have to. Tell him/her that there is a day each week that you absolutely can’t be reached for work-related issues, and you’re not coming into the office. I understand that sometimes emergencies happen, but true emergencies are much more rare than we sometimes make it seem. Trust God to provide.