Busyness is a global pandemic. In a five-year survey from the Obstacles to Growth Survey, of over twenty thousand Christians from 139 countries it discovered that four in ten Christians often or always run from task to task. Busyness was the greatest challenge in Japan, Philippines, South Africa, UK, Mexico, and Indonesia. The least likely to rush from task to task lived in Uganda, Nigeria, Malaysia, and Kenya. But even still, 30 percent of those reported busyness. Japan was the highest at 57 percent! Having lived in Japan, Jeff can attest to the lifestyle of the average Japanese.
So busyness is a common trait across the globe. The sad results of busyness come in multiple ways. The same survey found that this busyness was a distraction for 60 percent of Christians from developing a closer relationship with God. The places where busyness impacted Christians the most are from South Africa, Nigeria, Canada, Singapore, Ireland, Philippines, US, and UK. Busyness has other results. A Red Cross survey in Australia found that volunteer figures were down compared to a decade ago. The reason is work and life demands. In England, a survey showed that 40 percent of the respondents hadn’t made any leisure trips because they were too busy working or studying. In China, a survey of primary and secondary children showed they are too busy with school to play. Children are spending twelve hours a day studying, more than their parents are working. When children have spare time to play, they are either too tired to play or don’t have anyone to play with. Forty percent claim they don’t have friends to play with. More than half said what they wanted most was “a good night’s sleep.”
To bring this closer to home, simply look back on the Christmas letters that you receive from friends and family. How many are at least a page long telling about all the busyness from the previous year. So why is it a global pandemic? In most companies, employees get two to four weeks of vacation a year, in addition to twelve holiday days, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yet most people I know are constantly exhausted. There was a time where I could justify being tired. I worked all day and then served three to five times a week at church. But even when God pulled me out of that vicious cycle of work, family and church by moving me to Asia, I was still getting exhausted.
We wonder why we don’t have time to build relationships and have a positive influence on the world around us. We just do not have the time. It is one of the greatest weapons of the enemy. Then one summer about seven years ago, a friend gave me a book that talked about how modern Christians have largely forgotten about resting one day a week. Really resting. The rest that God created is called Sabbath. The rest he commanded us to take in the Ten Commandments.
We are free to meet God in a number of different ways. We are free to experience those things that restore us, that refresh us and revitalize us. Each person will look at this differently. For your family, do the things you love doing together. Maybe it is going to a movie, maybe it is staying home reading, maybe it is hanging out with friends and family and just enjoying the company. However, set apart time to share what God has been doing in your life with each other.
Sabbath should be a day of enjoyment. It might be a hike, it might be gardening or playing board games, it might be telling jokes. Try to make it a day of fun and take our minds off the stress of the world. That is it! It is a day to look forward to every week. It is the one day, you know you will get rest and will have a great day.
It is a day spent with God. On the seventh day, God made the day holy. So on the Sabbath, it is also time to be still and be with God. Set aside time to do devotions, read the Bible, or just talk about what God has been teaching you. The whole family should take part in setting time aside to hear from God. This is such a key way to talk and hear from God.
It is a day for service. Jesus showed us that Sabbath is not for work, but it is a day to serve our fellow man. In Matthew 12:9–13, Jesus is at the synagogue with a man with a shriveled hand. He was asked if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Read into this. Is it lawful to serve another person on the Sabbath? Jesus says, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep. Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Also, in Mark 3:4, Jesus asks them “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to Kill?”
Do you need to set aside a day for the Lord? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you able to go spend time with friends or family without having to look at your calendar and schedule it?
- Do you have time in your day just for yourself?
- Do you have time to drop by a friend’s house to say hello and see how they are doing?
- Does your family spend time together, eating meals, doing fun things, talking, or is it hard to get everyone to stop long enough to have a conversation?
- Do you get enough time with God, whether in prayer or reading the Bible?
If you answered no to any of these, maybe you should set aside one day a week to free up your time for God and for others.