Do you ever pause daily in the middle of a busy day? You might think I am out of my mind even to ask such a question! This is how I thought and operated for many years! It is because I have so much to do, it is impossible for me to stop and take a break!
When I read the book Emotional Healthy Spirituality by Scazzero, in preparation for a talk, I began to see the need to intentionally learn to stop and slow down many times in a day to refocus and bring God back into all that I am doing. The chapter I read for my talk was entitled The Daily Office and Sabbath, I realized why the author was so adamant for all Christians to practice what he called the Daily Office. I began to understand what this meant, why it was necessary for every follower of Jesus Christ to observe this Daily Office and how to go about doing this.
The Daily Office is intentionally taking periodic breaks several times in the day, in the midst of busyness. These breaks are not long breaks, just one, two, or five minutes at the most. It is a time to stop, slow down and focus on Christ and realign all that I am doing, reminding myself that this is not about me but Christ. When I stop and do this, God helps me focus and reminds me that He will enable me to get these things done, and that without Him, I will really not be able to do anything significant nor be able to complete the tasks outside of His help. In other words, I am deliberately reminding myself that Christ is the Boss of my life and my work, not I! Each time we refocus and align our ways with God’s ways, and seek His counsel and enablement, we are actually able to get more things done and be very productive!
This is quite different from what we refer to as doing our Quiet Time in the morning before we start work or at night before we go to bed. This is about letting God into your life, every moment of the day in everything you do, seeking His guidance and His grace and keeping focus on Him and letting Him take over all that you do daily. I have stopped and paused many times in the past, but I never did this regularly or with intentionality. Very quickly I would be swallowed up by my busyness and thus forget to deliberately stop and slow down. In fact often the case was to accelerate my work, with no time to even break for lunch or go to the toilet! The result was not greater productivity but frustration and desperation!! I am learning the importance of stopping and slowing down in order to bring God back to the centre of all that I am doing – be it household chores, preparing for lectures, Bible study, sermons – anything and everything.
The Sabbath is one day in the whole week where we have an extended time to pause and delight in God through corporate worship and take time to meditate and reflect on the things of God and our life in general. It is an extended time given to us to recalibrate our plans and purposes with God’s plans and purposes.
God gave us the Sabbath to stop from work and to pause to worship and enjoy Him. When we recognize why the Sabbath was given to us we will see things differently. We will slow down and not clutter this day with many things to do but to pause and bring God back into the centre of our thoughts, lives and activities. To know that He is the Lord of our lives – that all we are and have and do, belong to Him and not to us!
God had given us the Daily Office, 6 days in the week, and the Sabbath, one day in the week. He wants us to deliberately stop, slow down and refocus on Him regularly and intentionally, knowing that He alone is Lord of our lives, and He alone is the Boss of all that we do daily. When we do this with greater intentionality and align all that we do with His purposes, then by His grace, our lives will be more purposeful and even more productive!
Listen to the words of Jesus: “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
By Dr Violet James, Associate Pastoral Staff (YCKC Bulletin 11&12 August 2018)