One summer Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, I was weed whacking my yard after having mown it the day before. I just wanted to do the edging in the backyard, as I hadn’t the last few times I had mown. The weed whacker started right up, but after only a few feet around a garden the line disappeared. I bumped the bottom a few times, but upon closer inspection the line was inside the housing for the spool. Bumping the extender on the bottom couldn’t lengthen it. So I opened it up and pulled some line out, and went back to weed whacking, when once again the line went inside. This time I couldn’t pull it out, so I unwound all the line and rewound it again. Then I got a little further when the line got stuck inside again. Once again I fixed it in the same way as before. Persevering, I kept on like this, another eight times. Finally the thought struck me, “Maybe the Lord is trying to tell me something.”
I remembered the twinge of guilt that I had felt a few days before. Our next-door neighbor, a retired man who keeps his yard in immaculate shape, had off-handedly mentioned he never mows on Sundays. “Wow!” I had thought, “I am a pastor, but I am not that spiritual!” However I quickly had dismissed it, “We are not under the Old Testament Law any longer; besides as a pastor I must work on the Sabbath.”
But now the Lord had my attention. “I’ll stop now and finish it in a day or so, and then see what happens.” So I did, and you know what happened? The line did not get stuck inside the housing once, and I was able to finish without any problems. It has worked fine since!
Upon further reflection, I recalled recently asking the Lord to show me where my significance i.e. my sense of self worth, comes from, as I was working on my recent sermon series, “Seeking Significance.” Robert McGee, in the book I based the series on Search for Significance, says one of the lies we believe is that it comes from what we do instead of from our relationship with Christ. I had asked the Lord, “Is my work wrong? It’s the ministry, how can that be wrong? I am only working part-time; how can I be working too much?”
Now after this weed-whacking incident, the answer was staring me in the face. “Yes, in terms of my sense of self-worth, even the ministry can take the place of my relationship with the Lord.” Even though I am part-time, I was seeing my significance as work, not only church and other paying jobs, but even keeping the house and the yard nice. Even more, full-time pastors need to take time off for rest and especially for prayerful personal reflection. And that’s exactly what the Sabbath can do for us. It’s not a law to earn favor. Jesus talked about it as for us. In Mark 2:27-28 he says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
So I have resolved for myself, with some necessary exceptions like the morning service and classes of course, not to do any work on Sundays. And I will use the time for personal reading, extra prayer, time with my family and extended rest. Its a way to keep things in perspective, to remind myself that I have a relationship with the Lord based not on my work, but purely on his grace.