There are some (those who value accuracy or pay attention to the Gregorian calendar for example) who will tell you that January 1st marks the beginning of the New Year. They are wrong. Anyone with young children or who is involved in the world of children’s or youth ministry will tell you that the real new year is the Fall.
This is the time when families establish a new routine of life for the year. The time for vacation is over and the realities of school, homework assignments and extracurricular activities are added to regular demands of the home and workplace. This is the time when church programming is in full swing with Bible study groups, mid-week children’s programs, youth groups and more all starting up for the year. It is also the time that families begin to incorporate other activities like music lessons, basketball, swimming lessons, gymnastics and of course hockey into their weekly routine.
Even as I write this last paragraph I am struck by the fact that these are all good things. I believe each one of these things that I have mentioned has the potential to be a good thing for individuals and for families. At the same time, I wonder, is there just too much?
Have we become a culture that worships busyness and activity and eagerly desires to fill every possible time slot?
Sometimes, I think that many of us have so filled our lives with busyness and activity, even busyness and activity in the church, that we no longer have time or space for meaningful interactive relationship with our Lord.
As I reflect on this, I am reminded of the example of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Luke tells us that Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” and therefore did not take time to sit with Jesus. With this in mind, the question that I think families need to ask is whether they have become so distracted by the busyness and preparations of everyday life that they are missing out on spending time with the present Lord Jesus? If the answer to this question for a family is ever yes then I believe we need to seriously consider how we can intentionally order our lives in order to carve out the time and space needed to be quiet and rest.
This really is the concept of Sabbath. I love what Mark Buchanan writes about this in his book The Rest of God. He writes, “Sabbath is not the break we’re allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfillment of our obligations. It’s the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could.”
The “New Year” has begun. Will your family join mine in asking how best to order your commitments in this new reality?
May we be people who regularly and intentionally carve out time for quiet and rest. And may we be people who never allow busyness and activity to distract us from the present Lord Jesus who desires for us to sit with him.