The Five Missing Words

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So, the Sabbath rest . . .

Emphasis on “rest.”

Various times in my life I tried to spend all day Sunday being spiritual and not working at all.

There was no grace on it.  The day was elastic.  My mind was carnal.  I did not feel rested at the end of the day because the discipline of doing nothing was so exhausting.

Tried doing it on Saturday to see if the grace was there.

No go.

Tried leaning in with a minimum six-month commitment to grow my soul into luxuriating in the blessing of a day off work, in the presence of God.

A bust.

Two things shifted my worldview about a day of rest.

Consider my feet.  I have recklessly abused them for decades.  Now they are sending me a bill.  I just got back from walking around my neighborhood wearing high-end walking shoes that are cushioned all over.

I am sitting on the couch, enjoying a fire on a cold rainy day.  I am not at rest, because my feet hurt.  And my belly is lusting after some Tiramisu.  And I have a splinter in my index finger.

As long as any piece of my humanity is not “right,” the whole of my body is not at rest.  It is compensating for what is out of alignment, or is trying to heal something, or . . .

At the end of the 6th day, God did the finest quality control inspection EVER.  His conclusion: Nothing was missing, nothing was excessive, nothing was out of alignment; there was no “pain” or tension or compensation anywhere in the universe.

Before that, there was inadequacy.  Each day plugged a hole in the ecosystem.  But by the 6th day, everything was right; there was no stress.  Perfect alignment.

THEREFORE He ceased working on the 7th day, because there was nothing to do.  There was no tension, no misalignment to fix.  Everything was humming along on auto pilot so He rested because no tension needed to be resolved.

He stopped working – rested – because the cosmos was at rest.  The cosmos was working busily, but it was working right, with no conflict or distortion or lack. It was at rest.

A simpler picture: a group of firemen, on the clock, sitting around doing nothing.  Are they resting because of union rules?  Nope.  They are resting because there are no fires to put out and no accidents to address.

The world of their fire district is more or less (loosely speaking) at rest, so they are too – not out of duty, but because there was no work.

With that backdrop, please quote the 4th commandment – the one about honoring the Sabbath.  Most people will say something along the lines of “Six days shalt thou labour, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work . . .”

And that is an epic distortion of the passage because it is missing five words.  In my decades of teaching on this, not one single person has been able to figure out what the five missing words are, because they are some of the most un-American words in the whole Bible – so we ignore them.

But they don’t go away.

“Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work . . .”

In other words, the command is to walk in masterful time management.  We are to limit ourselves in what we commit to, and work efficiently in what we take on, so that in the microcosm of a week’s ecosystem, everything is at rest by the end of the 6th day.

And that is why my days of rest were so unrestful.  The cage full of screaming meemies that were left undone, and pushed over to the next day, was a relentless distraction.

I could not rest, because my ecosystem was not at rest, because I took on too much and worked too awkwardly, therefore I ended the week with an Urgent To Do List still yammering for attention.

So . . . no rest.

How far would you have to cut back, what would you have to disconnect from, what would you miss, if you were to simplify your life enough that once a week you were current with everything and your ecosystem was at rest?

Copyright by Arthur Burk
February 2023

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