“For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the beasts of the field may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard. Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed” (Exodus 23:10-12, ESV).
God gave Israel Ten Commandments. Most Christians will at least verbally acknowledge nine of them. (We say coveting is a sin, but most Americans treat it like a sacrament.) God said, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” but many of us will say, “That was just for the Jews. Let’s go shopping after church! Why is Chick-Fil-A closed?”
Hard work is part of the American ideal, but we do not value rest. Americans work more hours than people in most countries, yet we are not legally entitled to any paid vacation or holidays. Many of our employers provide these benefits—some are quite generous—but I wonder how many Americans actually receive the 38 paid vacation days and holidays that are mandatory in Austria.
It is easy for us to fall into the burnout trap. We can even allow things we love doing to become an obligation. When burnout hits, we can just begin to coast along, with no sense of direction or clarity.
God commanded the Jews to rest on the Sabbath. Every Saturday, they were commanded to rest: They were not allowed to do any work; they could not make their servants work. They were supposed to relax, worship God, and get refreshed.
He also commanded the Jews to take a “Sabbath rest” every seven years. After seven years, farmers were not supposed to plant anything: during that resting year, they could eat whatever grew on its own. According to God, even the land needed to rest. (From what I understand, this is the inspiration behind the modern agricultural practice of crop-rotation; it allows part of the field to recover after years of usage, and avoids depleting it by varying the crops grown in a particular area.)
As a writer, every now and then I find my well running dry. I try to post something every Sunday, but some weeks I have no fresh ideas. Other times, I lose motivation.
Although we are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14), we can learn a lot from the Old Testament. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Even though Jesus freed His disciples from the burden of legalism regarding the Sabbath, He acknowledged that it should be a blessing.
With that in mind, inspired (in principle, if not in time-span) by Exodus 23:10, I will begin instituting some Sabbath months into my writing ministry. Every seven months, beginning in August 2017, I will take some time away from writing blog posts. This will allow me time to weigh ideas for series or other ways to keep readers interested.
During my Sabbath months, I intend to repost older articles, with minimal updating. I plan to have them finished in my drafts folder before the month begins, so that I can just click “publish” and move along.
When I return in September, I plan to begin writing several series of posts. They would be based on ideas I have had for books, which may not have the commercial demand for traditional publication. The blogosphere is not affected by exactly the same set of market forces that drive the religious-book-publishing industry. Topics that have been covered by other authors in the past, or that may be too long for an article but too brief for an entire book, often find life online.
For my friends and family who have encouraged me to publish a book: I have a few other more unique ideas for books. I plan to write those, separate from this blog, and pursue more traditional publishing routes for them. More news as those projects develop.
For those of you with whom I have connected through the world of blogging: Thank you for your words of encouragement, comments, and for clicking the “Like” button.
It may not be a completely perfect approach. But, perhaps all of us should consider looking at our commitments and ask God, “Should I take some time away from this? Do I need a season of refreshing?”
This post copyright © 2017 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.