Bob is working on writing a book. It’s a great book. It needs to be written. I fully signed on to the project. The first year. I joyfully did the tasks that both of us usually split or worked on together. The second year, I was a bit disgruntled. I wanted it done. It wasn’t fun working alone, I was tired, and no matter how fast I went, I couldn’t keep up with the “To Do” list. As we entered the third year it was, “Get’er done, Michelangelo!” There was never time to rest. Bob said he liked my face better when I smiled more.
That’s when my friend recommended I read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero. The chapter that absolutely clobbered me was the one about the Sabbath. Deuteronomy 5:15 reads: “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.” Keeping the Sabbath was a command, but it was also a gift. The Jews had slaved morning ‘til evening seven days a week to build the pharaohs pyramids. They didn’t have a choice. But when God brought them out of Egypt, he gave them this command—but also this gift.
I’m not sure why I think I can pick and choose which of God’s rules I will obey and which ones I will ignore. And I think choosing to ignore God won’t affect my marriage. Ha! I got resentful. My demeanor was grumpy. I was not as much fun to be married to.
Scazzero points out that if we make a commitment to tithe—give a tenth of our earnings to God—we don’t get to the end of the week and say, “Oops, God, I ran out of money. You don’t get your part this week.” But, when we run out of time, we glibly say, “Sorry, God. Too much to do. No time to rest this week.” Setting aside time for God is an act of faith, just like tithing.
One of Scazzero’s stories impressed me. A group of pioneers was crossing the Oregon Trail. They calculated that if they continued at their current pace, they would not make it to their destination before the snows hit. Half the group argued to begin traveling on Sundays. The other half wanted to continue stopping for a day of Sabbath rest. The two groups ultimately divided. The outcome was that the group that stopped for the Sabbath beat the other group to Oregon. Because both they and their animals were rested, they made better time on the six days they traveled.
I have noticed that this is true for me as well. Since reading the book, I have started taking a Sabbath. We go to lunch with friends after church. We hike up to the cross atop one of the local mountains. Sometimes we even take a nap! The result is that I am better rested physically so I accomplish more the rest of the days. Not only that, I’m better emotionally. I don’t resent the workload. I’m smiling more (which Bob likes) and he told me I was beautiful (which I liked). God gave us the Commandments for a reason. Observing the Sabbath is only one example. If we think we can ignore God’s instructions and not affect our marriage, we are in for an unpleasant surprise.