Okay baby, lets say God really is God; hes not applying for the job, etc. etc. And Big Fella like craves to shake up the world, make it one big happy neighborhood, blah, blah, blah. Hes got plans. Big dreams. Always been that way. You get the picture.
Yeah, and Big Fella smacked us right on his assembly line. Said hes gonna do all this through us. On topa that maybe you got kids, a hubbie or da wife, gotta pay the bills. This is a ton of responsibility. Were talking 24-7. I got stains under my armpits already. Stressful, right? And Big Fellas not too happy about our sleepless nights, and us gulping down aspirin, anti-depressants, and ulcer medicine. Wants us to do the job his way not ours, see?
So hes got a secret potion. Its like ancient. Goes back to Adam and Eve in the raw.
Make a long story short, Big Fella pulls up his sleeves, punches the clock, makes day, night, Jersey shore, Himalayas, crazy-looking fish, wild animals, first dude, first babe, pulling all-nighters the whole way. The jobs over and the guys whipped.
Thats right, I said tired. Big Fella. Big Cheese. Put a Q-tip in your ears. How do I know that? I read the book. Duh. Says he "abstained from work and rested." Dude named Abraham Heschel talks about this Hebrew word qadosh. Means holy. Abe calls it "the mystery and majesty of the divine." So Abe says, "What was the first holy object in the history of the world? Was it a mountain? Was it an altar?" Nope. Listen up: It was rest time that Big Fella first called "qadosh." His day off. When Big Fella lit up the barbecue, took a walk, smelled the roses, called his buddies over, and stuck a line in the water.
Then Big Fella says: "There are six days you may work, but the seventh is a day of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a day to the Lord." Declared a lifetime holiday! Every week. Day off with pay.
His employees kept the holiday for centuries. Other mob-types took over the plant. Made them work like dogs. Killed alota them. True story. But they still found ways to secretly light their candles and remember that day. They say that tradition kept them sane over the years.
BUT WE GET SO BUSY, we do forget. We think more work time kisses us up to the boss. Au contraire. This brain named Jacques Ellul said that Big Fellas holiday policy "shows that work is not after all so excellent or desirable a thing as people often tell us."
See, theres deep stuff behind Big Fellas policies, not just "dos" and "donts." "Dont murder"thats about how precious and beautiful human life is. "Dont commit adultery"thats a celebration of family and marriage. "Dont steal," and "dont covet"thats Big Fella saying not to worry, hes got our backs, hell give us all we need.
The deep thing behind "Remember the seventh day and keep it holy" is that this is how Big Fellas plans really succeed through us, as we live with the same rhythm of action and ceasing he made the place with. Its not a vacation day. Its not about a Giants game on TV or deals at the mall. Its about embracing his policies for our lives. Its about remembering whos in charge.
It takes effort to do it Big Fellas way. Its easy to get distracted. If I rest, what about this, what about that? Oh that makes sense, knucklehead. The boss rested, but the whole place will come apart if we do? Gitoudahere. The way I look at it, thats Big Fellas problem. I heard hes got other ways of keeping things moving while the plants closed down.
Look, to make a product of peace we gotta be employees at peace. Our work hours will be shorter, but theyll count for more. I hear Big Fellas more of a quality, not quantity, kind of guy. Listen to what a brain named Marva Dawn says in her beautiful book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly (Eerdmans, 1995): "We can truly learn how to rest only when we are genuinely freed by Gods grace." So maybe the real mystery is that grace is the most productive idea there is. Big Fellas a genius.
Chris Rice lived and worked in an inter-racial community in Jackson, Mississippi, for 17 years. He was co-founder of Reconcilers Fellowship and co-author of More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel. When this article appeared, he was a research fellow at Boston Universitys Institute on Race and Social Division, and he lived with his family in Vermont.