Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dissatisfied with the Sabbath

Just imagine Mick Jagger belting out, "I ain't got no (dah-dah-dah) satisfaction!"

Today at church (WEPC again) the pastor taught about Hebrews 6:13-20 and the absolute confidence we can have in God's promises. The absolutely sovereign King of the universe, whose will shall never be thwarted, has not only given us his word of promise that was first pledged to Abraham, but he has backed it up by a self-maledictory oath, "two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie" (see Genesis 15). But what it is that he has promised, and what we personally hope for, may be two different things.

As the weeks of school progress--my fifth week commences tomorrow--I've found myself each week seemingly further inundated with take-home planning and grading that eats into my weekend. It was my original desire to get as much done on Saturdays as I could, so that Sundays could truly be a Sabbath rest, a day off given solely to worship corporate and private, reading, and the recreational pursuits I enjoy, such as nature walking, running, and photography. But now I find myself with about three more hours of work yet today. Blech. This is something I really need to work on; Saturdays offer so much to enjoy, namely, cookouts and MSU football.

I have been able to do a lot of enjoyable things with my weekends this fall, don't get me wrong. But there's something that just feels lacking about the whole notion of a weekend and a Sabbath. Each week I eagerly await the two days when I get to relax a bit and not have to deal with failing teenagers who, no matter how much structure and coaching I provide, DO NOT EVER DO THEIR HOMEWORK! Every Sunday evening, the shadow looms of another week of poor student progress, of the difficulties of planning good lessons that include fore-thoughtful classroom management and diverse instructional strategies, and of the sixty-odd hours of work I bang out each week. I never feel wholly rested, never fully eager to tackle what challenges the next day will bring.

But maybe that's how it's supposed to be. Maybe we're not supposed to be satisfied even with the beautiful rest of the Sabbath and the joys of corporate worship of the risen Lord in church. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews urged his audience (Jewish converts in Rome?) to remember that the present Sabbath-rest was not the fulfillment, was not the Best that God had to offer. It wasn't about entering the Promised Land of Canaan. It wasn't about their freedom from creative labor one day out of seven. There was rather a greater "Sabbath rest" for the people of God to look ahead to (Hebrews 4:1-13). And this rest is still ours for the taking, offered by grace, received by faith alone, and secured by the sure and steadfast Anchor, Jesus Christ our forerunner (6:19-20).

The fulfillment of our final rest is still in the future. God does not promise to us complete joy, satisfaction, and rest in these present days of our lives. Perhaps that longing for more fun, more refreshing sleep (perhaps I should get a real bed and stop sleeping on an air mattress), and more satisfaction with my life and labor is not a deficiency, but rather the echo God has put in our hearts of the true Hope to come in the fullness of God's kingdom. And this Hope that will come for all who are not satisfied with what this life offers but instead "desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one" (11:14).

1 comment:

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I have to say that I agree with you on many fronts -

I hate it when Saturdays are packed and stuff gets shoved over to Sundays! I like for Sunday's to be uncomplicated, time for worship, personal time and sometimes just a few speical people.

However, I had to be at the medical school yesterday for most of the day and we had company coming for dinner last night too - so now it is Sunday night and I feel totally unprepared and unrested for tomorrow being Monday.

As to not being "satisfied", I think that is the normal state of affairs. Rom 8:22,23 talks about creation groaning, waiting for the redemption, so I can't imagine why people, made in the image of God wouldn't also have an innate sense of yearing also for whatalso - for full completion, for change back into who/what they were made to be in the first place!