by Rebecca Montrone

My husband Dale and I spent several days together in Israel a few years ago.  Of all of the many observations and thoughts I could share from that adventure, I think what struck me perhaps more than any other was the profound difference in the way our cultures follow the Creator’s advice for health and well-being – a rest one day out of seven.

Of course, I understand that the United States is not a theocracy and never has been, and I am not suggesting that the government institute a mandatory day of rest.  That said, if I could just tell you how amazing it was to see an entire society simply come to rest, beginning Friday one hour before sundown and ending Saturday one hour after sundown.  We were at a resort on the Red Sea when that time came.  The kitchen staff did most of their meal preparation during the day on Friday, so work for them was at a minimum the next day.  Check-out time was not enforced on Saturday, because – generally speaking –  people do not come and go until the Sabbath is past.

Dale and I checked out around 3:00 pm to catch a flight back to Tel Aviv.  By the time we had settled into our hotel and were enjoying dinner at an outdoor café, Sabbath was just ending, and people started coming out of the woodwork, doing relaxing enjoyable things; riding bikes, running on the beach, families out walking, eating, talking, laughing, enjoying music, and looking… really rested!

Contrast this scenario with our weekends, when the structure of our society takes every opportunity to keep families watching the clock, jumping into the car to drive one or another of the kids to yet another activity, etc.  I can’t tell you how many weekends over the years we have spent all day Saturday and Sunday in auditoriums at our daughter’s dance competitions.

I believe we ignore the wisdom of a rhythm of rest every seven days to our great detriment.  For myself, I started putting into practice the wisdom of weekly rest in the following ways many years ago, and I would encourage you to try some of these yourself if you haven’t already.

First, I find going to church and being involved in the services on Sunday very restful.  This is a time of rest for my spirit – I guess I could compare the feeling to eating and drinking and resting after strenuous physical activity.

I do not allow myself to do anything related to my work – I even discipline my mind not to think about it, and I know I’ll be that much sharper on Monday morning because of the break.  I don’t take Sunday afternoon as an opportunity to pay the bills, etc.  What I CAN do is anything I enjoy.  It might be having friends over and playing games all day, or taking a long nap, having a movie-fest, enjoying the great outdoors, reading, listening to music, playing my piano or guitar, or playing computer games; even cooking, because I enjoy cooking. What a rest!  I pass this day without any thought at all of the things I should be doing.

Of course, you would translate this advice into your own lifestyle; you can play golf, but you can’t go grocery shopping; you can watch the game, but you can’t clean the basement.  Are you getting the idea?  If you find yourself burning out, feeling like you need to take a long vacation in order to keep yourself from going nuts, then follow the wise advice of our Creator and take advantage of the weekly rest.  You will be happier and healthier for it; spiritually, mentally, and physically… I promise!