Slavery and the Wisdom of Sunday

May 5, 2015

As a kid, Sunday was my favorite day of the week.  There was a time, yes, oh, ancient days, when all stores were closed on Sunday. Before we became slaves to malls and technology, we took one day off, and we rested.

I remember. Sunday was the day to rise above all the noise. A day for God, family, rest, and relaxation.

The routine was church, family, food, and the park. If it wasn’t the park, it was the beach. We ran wild, played games, enjoyed one another. And, we laughed. A lot.

I still cherish this day. Like most people, there are a thousand things I could be doing, should be doing on Sunday, but I’m a stickler for having this day off.

I do so without guilt or shame.

Here’s the reason why.

We’re supposed to. Yes, that’s right. The wisdom in the sky we call God dictates that we honor the Sabbath. It’s practical advice from our Creator. Yes, the maker of all things knew that our minds and bodies needed a rest. He also knew that we were probably too dumb, too distracted by life, to figure it out by ourselves, so he didn’t just advise it, he commanded it.

I find this notion fascinating because most of us think that this commandment was some kind of egocentric God thing. Like we have a God who really needs us kneeling at his feet all day.

Not so much.

Here’s a quote that brought it all home to me just the other day.

“[Honoring] the Sabbath is meant to be an experience of the truth that you are not a ‘doing machine,’ but a deeply loved son or daughter of God. He is not interested in simply using you to get work done; God delights in you. He provides free time once a week so that you might relish your release from all forms of oppression and slavery.”

Okay. This is pretty cool stuff when you put it this way, right?

You mean God would really prefer that we take a day off? Even to the point that he would command it?

You betcha! He’s just that kind of God.

Four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, and God said something like, “Set my people free.”

He didn’t say free to run the malls all day Sunday. He didn’t say free to be on the computer. Or, free to be in meetings—even if they’re at church. That’s right. I’ve said it out loud, and I’ll probably be excommunicated because church people love to have meetings on Sunday. Sometimes they even call them Bible studies or fellowship. Still, whatever form they take . . . they require someone to work, prepare, plan, and be present.

Church work is still work.

I’m just saying, anything outside worship—even if it’s learning—should be reserved for during the week.

We are to be free from oppression and slavery. Free to just BE. With Him and with each other.

We can set aside our technology and our checkbooks and just BE!

Perfectionism as the Enemy of Sunday Wisdom

Sounds simple enough, but if you really do have a job that requires your presence on Sunday, so it is. Sabbath doesn’t have to mean Sunday. People who really are required to work on Sunday often take at least one other day a week for rest. If they’re smart, that is.

And, if there’s some work that you enjoy doing, I say go for it, as long as it isn’t holding you captive. My husband, for example, loves to cook Sunday dinner. It’s relaxing for him. I say, Alleluia!

You get the point. But, then, there’s this issue of perfectionism.

For those of us who are perfectionists (and I’m still in recovery), our Sunday mania is often a rush to be that busy person who never shuts down. The one who finally gets its all perfect and right. We might call it catching up, but the truth is, we know deep down inside, it will never happen.

The demon of perfectionism insists that we keep racing no matter the cost to ourselves or the people we love. Eventually, we come Undone, as author Michele Cushatt so eloquently puts it. Exhausted and ill equipped to cope with the daily challenges of life, we eventually unravel.

I see quite a bit of this unraveling in my practice. Business leaders who refuse the R&R and stumble into each week like a zombie with a four Mojito hangover. Then, there are the thousands of exhausted women who have crossed my path during my career as a speaker/consultant.

I sometimes wish God would come down right down in the middle of my speech, then and there, and say it one more time. Loudly. So, they can hear it directly from the man upstairs.

You Are Free . . . Let It Go!

Put the sun back in Sunday. Deadlines can wait until Monday. Emails will always be there. But, your family? They may move on to other spaces in time. Take it from someone who knows. Make your Sundays memory-making days. Make them special.

Here’s a first step toward that reality. I challenge you to read Michele Cushatt’s new book, Undone. As a wife, mother of six, (really!), and woman of God who tried to get it all perfect, Michele captures the insanity we’ve all lived.

Like the early Israelites, we, too, are captives to slavery. But, it is a bondage of our own making. The difference between the Israelites and us is that we have a choice to step outside our own bondage.

Before you stutter . . . yeah, but . . . consider this.

If you could do anything you wanted on a Sunday afternoon, what would it be? With whom? Worship doesn’t have to be hard. It can be just as easy as loving one another.

Do that!

It’s what freedom is all about.

Resources and References

Scazzero, P. (2014).  Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan.

Cushatt, M. (2015).  Undone:  A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan.