The best endurance athletes know a secret: more is not always better. It may seem counterintuitive, but gains in endurance require rest as well as work. Rest is actually a key element in a successful training plan. That’s why conditioning experts tend to recommend periodized training that increases an athlete’s workload slowly over a set period of time, drops back to a lower intensity level for a little while, and then increases the effort level slowly again.
Despite this knowledge, elite athletes sometimes drive themselves too hard, hoping to gain a competitive advantage, hoping to be the exception to the rule of rest. The result is often injury and disappointment. We are all only human.
Paul’s analogy linking the Christian life to an endurance event is apt. Whether competitive athletes or not, we all need rest – not just so that we can work again, but also as a vital part of our human experience.
Personally, I’ve always derived great enjoyment from accomplishing things – holding a completed Viewpoint in my hands, finishing a challenging swim set, placing a satisfying checkmark next to an item on my to-do list. Achieving goals is usually a good thing – until my self-worth and identity become tied to my productivity, until I am tempted to do more in order to be more, until work becomes all I do at the expense of other things that matter.
Sabbath is about course correcting on a regular basis. It’s about reaffirming our identity in Christ. It’s about recognizing our dependence on God as individuals and community. It’s about obeying the rhythm of rest and activity that God established for us. It’s about mercy and justice, and it can be a foretaste of heaven.
And yet, we are so quick to dismiss Sabbath in the church today, so quick to reduce its remembrance to a quick hour in church before we get back to our busyness. Our days of worship are often quite similar to the other days of our week, with worship simply added into the mix.
It hasn’t always been this way. At the risk of sounding that familiar and impossible toll that we ought to hearken back to the good ole days, we decided to spend this issue of the Viewpoint examining the largely lost practice of true Sabbath-keeping. We would like to ask you to consider whether the commandment to keep the Sabbath might need more attention in our individual and communal lives. What’s more, we want to hear your answers and thoughts on the subject. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or join our Facebook conversation at facebook.com/PLNUAlumniAssociation to let us know what Sabbath means to you.
Christine Spicer, Editor