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Aug25MonOur lives are incredibly busy, but we ignore the fourth commandment at our peril. August 25, 2014 by Major Kathie Chiu
The sheer volume of activity in my daughter's life awes me. In any given week, as well as taking her four kids to school and picking them up, there are dance lessons, sports activities, mid-week youth programs, worship practice, play dates and sleepovers. Visits with friends and cousins and church on Sunday make for a busy weekend. On top of this, she works as a school lunchroom and playground supervisor, and her husband, a police officer, does shift work.
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
She's not the only one with this kind of chaotic lifestyle. In many families, both parents work full-time. Knowing what to have for supper is a challenge—let alone having the energy to cook it. One day blurs into the next with never enough time to get everything done. And down time? Forget it. It seems like busyness is at epidemic levels.
Our fast-paced lifestyles of building careers or raising families or both have given rise to all-time high levels of depression, anxiety and physical illness from stress. When vacation time comes, if we even take a vacation, it seems more like a sick leave because people are so exhausted that all they want to do is sleep. Or we fill down time or vacation days with projects we haven't had time for or visiting people we never get a chance to see.
Is this how life is supposed to be? When do we pull by the wayside and spend time with Jesus? Whatever happened to “be still and know”? In the midst of all our stress and fatigue, Jesus gently calls us. “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I'm gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 CEB).
We aren't supposed to run around like crazy, wearing ourselves out with unceasing activity. Instead we are to walk with Jesus, sharing his yoke. When we go at his pace, not ours, we experience true Sabbath. God gave us the Sabbath to come away from all of the busyness. Sabbath (Shabatt) means “to desist from exertion” or “to cease.” In other words—rest.
I don't know about you, but I am the kind of person that resists resting. I'm always thinking of the next thing I need to do. When I run out of things I need to do, I think up things I've always wanted to do.
Several years ago, I learned a hard lesson about not practising Sabbath. I was busy—working as a corps officer, raising money to build a shelter and transitional housing centre, opening a retail yarn shop as a fundraiser, establishing a new non-profit society with community service providers, participating in the weddings of my two oldest daughters, giving birth to our fourth and fifth children, and looking after my ill, aging mother.
Eventually I couldn't cope and got sick. After a serious surgery, burnout turned to depression and anxiety. Flare-ups of a long-time chronic illness plagued me. Still, as an over-achiever, I hated resting—even though I had no choice. When I started to recover, I was convinced I could study for a Master's degree. My friends told me I was crazy and they were right. I had to drop it and take better care of myself. You can't do everything.
Today, I remind myself frequently to “yoke” myself to Jesus—to walk with him. I love the words of a song written by Major Joy Webb. When I'm tired, worn and discouraged, it reminds me that the Christian walk isn't supposed to be so hard. And when it becomes hard, it's usually because I've slipped the yoke off my neck.
Share my yoke and find that I am joined with you./Your slightest movement I shall feel and be there too!/Share my yoke and come the way that I must go!/In our “togetherness” my peace you'll know;/The world beholding us will see it so!
Major Kathie Chiu grew up in The Salvation Army and has been an officer for 22 years. She has five children, including two teenaged boys still living at home, and eight grandchildren.