I first read this phrase on the cover of Dorothy Bass’ book, “Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time” (Jossey-Bass, 2000). The words stopped me in my tracks. Like so many of us who balance relationships and work and community commitments, it had been a long time since I had thought of time as a gift. Honestly, it seemed more like a relentless taskmaster. I associated time with scarcity, not abundance.
But scripture tells a different story. In the first chapters of Genesis we meet a God who provides time sufficient for all our needs—for satisfying relationships, for purposeful and fruitful labor, for contributing to the common good. In the vision of these Genesis stories, God’s gift of time is so abundant that we also have time to rest, to be renewed in body, mind and spirit. This dedicated time for renewal is called “Sabbath”, the root word of “Sabbatical”.
Having just received and opened this gift of time, I have a renewed appreciation for God’s wisdom. To state it simply and boldly: we are more human when we practice Sabbath. We are not God. We are not machines. We are creatures who have an enormous capacity to create and produce. But that capacity becomes a burden and creates a type of bondage when we do not honor the rhythm God set for us, when we do not open the gift of Sabbath.
I am so thankful for a faith community in which we strive to live in this Sabbath rhythm. It is countercultural, for sure. So we rely on one another for encouragement and support. Together we look to the God of Time, who knows us better than we know ourselves, and who continues to provide for our deepest needs.
Peace to you, Pastor Shjerven