Jesus found beauty in unexpected places and in peculiar people. In the Bible, we see Him mingling at laboriously long weddings, with prostitutes and even with tax collectors. Jesus even finds beauty in waste. Not the waste of paper and plastic. The “waste” of time in acts of worship and Sabbath-rest.
In the Gospel accounts, we discover only one occurrence in which Jesus qualified something as “beautiful.” It’s found in that sweet story of Jesus hanging out at Simon the leper’s home, when a woman awkwardly poured her expensive perfume on Jesus’ head (see Matt. 26:6-13). The disciples ridiculed her for wasting her potentially otherwise useful resource on such a thing as Jesus’ head.
Note Jesus’ comment on this act of “wasteful” worship: “‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me'” (v. 10, NIV). And that’s it. That’s the one time on record where Jesus called something beautiful.
The discipline of Sabbath-rest has been lost to reinvented age-old customs of overworking, wealth-mongering and burnout. But what can we do?
To ameliorate our exhaustion, greed and burnout, we need rest! Is that why the pinnacle of all God’s creation isn’t mankind, but rather the last day of creation, the Sabbath? Maybe that’s why later Jewish traditions actually gave God the name “Sabbath”?
One of the most ruinous ideas the devil ever imagined wasn’t getting us to kill, murder or plunder, but getting us so busy we actually think resting in God’s joy is a waste and not worship.
Deep inside, my heart knows the truth. I know God calls me to rest one day a week. I know He needs me to live in rhythm. I know it-but until I am changed by it, it makes no difference, and I can’t pass it on to anyone else. Even God–who is quite able to work and does not need rest-rested on the Sabbath, modeling what we need to do.
I offer two pieces of Sabbath-wisdom as food for thought.
First, turn off the cell phone one day each week. It’s a relieving ritual to hold down the power button for five seconds to disconnect. In today’s world, we have lost the ability to be unavailable.
I find, oddly, that when there is a possibility that an emergency needing my attention might arise, I am at the same alert stage as an actual emergency. But someone else’s “emergency” does not need to be my emergency. I must take solace in David’s words from Psalm 4:8: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” And in the process of redeveloping the gift of unavailability, we will find a world of joy waiting.
Second, take up gardening—or some other such activity. The story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis chapters 1-2 offers a clear picture of the role we play in God’s creation. Interestingly, the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a restored garden. Gardening-getting in the dirt and moving mud-allows your soul to once again play like a child. If gardening isn’t your thing, that’s fine—the point is to find some activity that will have the same effect.
So go ahead—filled with the Spirit and the love of God-enjoy the freedom to “waste” a day in rest and worship. It will be a beautiful waste!