Slowing Down

Nick MartineauBlog

I’m currently reading through the Bible with a group of Hope men, and a few weeks back we read the Ten Commandment. I’ve read through the Ten Commandments hundreds of times, but this time a certain commandment jumped off the page, smacked me in the face, and wouldn’t leave me alone until I stopped and gave it some attention!

The commandment was Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work… (Exodus 20:8-10).

Did you know honoring the sabbath is the only spiritual discipline mentioned in the Ten Commandments? Honoring the sabbath isn’t as much about slowing down just because God asks us to; honoring the sabbath is about slowing down because God uniquely created and wired us to need margin and rest. In fact, it was Jesus that said, “the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

Honoring the sabbath doesn’t mean we legalistically carve out one day a week to do nothing: it has more to do with intentionally slowing down and connecting with our Creator. I’m beginning to realize how sabbath rest is much deeper than just controlling the events and meetings on my calendar. We were made for (intentionally designed for) mental margin and physical rest. Honoring the sabbath is the call for each and every one of us to create space to focus, think, dream, pray, meditate, and “set our minds on the things above” (Col 3:2).

This means we must fight against the constant intrusive thoughts and distractions of this world! When you leave a heavy meeting and move on to the next thing, that heaviness stays with you, it impacts your mood and consumes your thoughts. When you wake up and check your phone, it’s like starting your day at one hundred MPH. When you end your night with a barrage of social media posts and pictures, those things stay with you when your head hits the pillow. When you keep your mind and your body constantly busy, then you aren’t honoring the sabbath rhythm by taking time to process the events of your day and hearing from the Lord.

Jesus often got away early in the morning. He would spend extended time in prayer, sometimes even all night, and we see that He made the biggest impact in history by going deep with twelve men. Jesus modeled for us how to honor the sabbath, and in doing so He showed us that taking a break can actually increase your capacity. Sometimes you need to slow down to go really fast!

If you find yourself really distracted in this season, and if your thoughts seem to come at you a mile-a-minute, would you be willing to try something different? Try spending less time on your phone and less time following the news, and try carving out some time every day and every week to intentionally connect with the Lord. Whether it is time in the scriptures, a prayerful walk, entering into a discipleship relationship…try intentionally slowing down so you can hear from the Lord.