The Problem with Our Abundance
The Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you . . . (Ex. 16:29).
I’ve got too much stuff.
Nothing seems to fit comfortably. My closet is stuffed, my pantry is overflowing, my freezer is packed, the hallway linen closet is brimming, and even the catch-all “junk drawer” in my kitchen can barely contain the junk we’ve thrown in it. And don’t even get me started on what my calendar and schedule used to look like.
Now, granted, our home is small, and my closet space isn’t much bigger than one of those airplane bathrooms that are like a not-funny, bad joke the airline industry is trying to play. So my tendency is to blame our overrun quarters on the minute space.
But if this is the closet that the Lord has given me (and the pantry, and the linen cabinet, and the refrigerator/freezer), then it’s enough. Because He always gives enough. So over time I’ve gathered that none of these things is the problem.
Why doesn’t 24 hours in a day suit our schedules? Why is a woman’s closet – no matter what size – never quite big enough to hold her attire, or the shoe shelf appropriate for her shoes, or her jewelry case adequate for hosting her bracelets and necklaces? Why isn’t the surface of our desks enough space for our paperwork? Why do we need an extra freezer in the garage or a three-tiered rack from Home Depot to hold the overflow of our canned goods? Did our homes and car trunks and drawers all get tinier over night? Did someone hold a meeting while we weren’t looking and steal four or five hours from our 24-hour days?
Or is it more probable that our spaces and hours aren’t too small, but our self-control and self-discipline are? We’ve unlearned the important, Spirit-empowered skill of saying “no,” dissatisfied with what fits within our means.
…our calendar means.
…our closet means.
…our drawer means.
…our office space means.
…our budget means.
We’ve become a generation of women who don’t know when to joyfully and gratefully say, “enough is enough.” And mean it.
I’m one of those women.
There, I admit it.
Knowing me the way He does, God has tried to help me by giving me a built in boundary to keep my life balanced and sane. If only, I’d accept it and utilize it.
The genius of the Sabbath.
The people gathered food morning by morning. . . on the sixth day, they gathered twice as much as usual [but] this is what the Lord commanded: “Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord.” [But] some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day. . . –Exodus 16: 21–23, 27
The people went out anyway. . .
I’m one of those people, are you? Gathering and producing and buying and spending and eating and collecting and keeping and hoarding well into the margin that is supposed to be divinely reserved. Instead of taking a break to genuinely enjoy and appreciate what God has already done, I fill every gap of time and space with things that distract my attention from Him. The result: a life that lacks the lustre and peace, contentment and assurance that comes from the satisfaction that only God’s Spirit can give. Soon, the things I was meant to enjoy begin to feel more like a burden than a blessing.
Each family [in Israel] had just what it needed. . . but some of them didn’t listen and kept some until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell (Ex 16:18, 20).
Picture the scene, a million or more tents pitched in the scalding, dry dessert brimming with molded and decaying food—food that they weren’t supposed to have. The stench. The foulness. The horrid pollution and vileness.
But isn’t this what exactly what happens to us. With no margin and breathing room embedded into out schedules and spaces we begin to feel frustrated by the over-crowding, the lack of sleep, the endless lists, the crushing upkeep.
But, starting today, you and I can turn everything around. We can enjoy the benefits of one of the greatest gifts God has ever given—the Sabbath—a built in mechanism to bring the joy back into life.
The Sabbath is a pause, a stopping point, a decision to take a break from buying or gathering or producing or accruing or doing or working. It’s the Spirit empowered choice to stop and enjoy God. It’s the margin that reminds you and your stuff that it is not in control, God is.
It’s the peace that comes right in the middle of that whirlwind, flurry of activities that cover your day and mind and everything in between. Sabbath beats your life back into submission—puts it in the back seat where it belongs, out from behind the wheel in the driver’s seat it has been trying to snatch from you. It’s the breathing room that gives you your sanity back one day at the time.
So, the next time you feel a sense of utter frustration when you open that cabinet or closet or drawer or pantry, or look at your calendar or schedule or plans for the months ahead, ask the Lord about His gift—the Sabbath. Tell Him that you are desperate for breathing room. Then listen. Obey. And watch everything change for the better.
By Priscilla Shirer (MA[BS], 1998). Used with permission.
About the Contributors
Priscilla can be found speaking in many church and para-church conferences across the globe each year, as well as leading her own Going Beyond Ministries, which focuses on the expository teaching of the Bible. Priscilla has published numerous books including Discerning the Voice of God, God is Able, and the New York Times Bestseller The Resolution for Women. Married to Jerry for 16 years, she spends most of her time cleaning up after (and trying to satisfy the appetites of) their three growing boys – Jackson, Jerry Jr. and Jude.