A story is told of two men who spent the day chopping firewood. The younger stronger man started early and worked hard throughout the day. He never stopped to rest. He barely took time to eat food or drink water. He was determined to chop as much wood as he could. The older and weaker gentleman started work at his usual time. He took regular breaks throughout the day, and even stopped for a long lunch. Each time the old man stopped to rest the younger man grew angry. “Why is this old man stopping so often? Doesn’t he understand the importance of working hard and doing his best? He is just being lazy.” At the end of the day the young man was exhausted. He laid down his axe and measured to see which person accomplished the most. To his astonishment, the older man cut far more wood. “How did you do that,” he enquired. “You seemed to take one break after another. What’s more, I am much stronger and worked so much harder than you.” The old man smiled confidently. “It’s true. I did take a lot of breaks. But what you did not notice is that every time I sat down, I sharpened my axe.”
My friend, Don McKenzie, used to work for a moving company. From time to time I would work with him on a moving project. He made his work look so easy. I, on the other hand, would struggle. Over and over Don would say to me, “Don’t work harder. Work smarter.” One of the smartest things we can do to remain healthy and effective is to follow God’s command to take a Sabbath rest. Warren Wiersbe once said, “The ability to calm your soul and wait before God is one of the most difficult things in the Christian life. Our old nature is restless...the world around us is frantically in a hurry. But a restless heart usually leads to a reckless life.”
Study the Word
Have your group read and discuss the following passages. What can we learn about the Sabbath and the importance of rest?
· Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:9-11, Exodus 31:12-14, Exodus 35:2, Hebrews 4:8-10, Mark 2:27-28, Mark 6:31, Matt. 11:28
Apparently the observance of the Sabbath day was a top priority from God’s perspective. Here are a few of the advantages of Sabbath rest. Have members of your group consider which of the ones apply to their own lives. What steps should they take in order to ensure they keep the Sabbath?
· Sabbath rest brings us closer to God
· Sabbath rest helps us regain our perspective on life
· Sabbath rest restores our energy
· Sabbath rest helps us avoid careless mistakes
· Sabbath rest helps us appreciate God’s creative acts and redemptive nature
1. The Twenty Four Hour Society, Martin Moore-Ede
2. Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest, Wayne Mueller
3. When I Relax I feel Guilty, Tim Hansel