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A Midweek Musing with a Different Outlook

If you ask most anyone (especially my family) I have a bit of the trait that researchers call a Type A personality. I often set goals and make lists of tasks I need to do during the day. I love my TO DO list and I love checking the things I need to do off the list. I also love technology. Yes, I am a geek.

Thus, the computer program Microsoft Outlook and I are a match made in heaven; I use this computer program daily. This piece of software is one of the most important software programs on my computer and mobile devices. While the software contains several components, including my email and my address book, the two I rely on most are the task list and the calendar.

These two functions help me to be productive because they both allow me to schedule tasks and meetings. Then, when the time comes, Outlook sends me reminders of those tasks or appointments. I am thus able to be where I need to be or to complete tasks I need to accomplish efficiently and on time.

At least that’s what Outlook is supposed to do.

However, a few years ago the particular copy of Outlook I was using became unreliable. Although everything else worked as it should, the reminder feature became undependable, sometimes working and sometimes not. Thus, I missed some key appointments and tasks.

So, being the geek that I am, I first attempted to fix the problem with the software on my own. After that failure I went to the Microsoft website and found the section on Microsoft Outlook where I diligently searched to find a fix. Sure enough, the site mentioned problems such as this and provided a list of causes and potential remedies. I went down this proverbial rabbit hole working my way down through the list—one fix at a time, but alas none of them fixed it and I think a few made it worse!

I was now more than a little behind my schedule for the day. This both frustrated and upset me. Because another part of my Type A-ism is that I like schedules and staying on them. I finally got to the last “solution” on the list. This solution gave a warning in larger font with bold letters that stated I should only do this if I had tried all other possibilities first.

Of course, I had—what did they think I would do. Try to find a solution without reading all the directions—oh wait, never mind.

Anyway, this solution stated that if none of the other “solutions” worked, the program must have developed some unrepairable corrupt files. It said the cure was to delete the program from the machine, shut the machine down for at least 15 minutes letting it “reset” and then turn it back on, replacing the program with a fresh installation.

I followed those steps. I impatiently waited for them all to slowly do their “magic” and once everything was refreshed anew, the program began to work correctly again. In fact, I have never had another To Do List or Calendar reminder failure occur again.

As I recalled this story it occurred to me that our life is often in need of such a reboot. We often need to stop, let the corrupt things in our life go, rest for a while, and then begin again—refreshed and renewed.

In fact, if we look at the scriptures, it is clear that God programmed us just this way. The Biblical text is full of calls for the people of God to rest. To take time for Sabbath.

In Leviticus 26:2 God says, “Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.”

Later in the 58th Chapter of Isaiah, the prophet shares the following decree about the honoring the sabbath when he declares –

“If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

And finally, Paul declares in Hebrews:

“So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one

may fall through such disobedience as theirs.”

The need for sabbath is clear; yet, it is more than just rest and I think more than a one-day-a-week activity. It is not only that time, be it on Saturday or Sunday or some other day, but it is also a lifestyle. A choice to participate in the ebb and flow of life which makes us enjoy our world rather than just trying to survive each day as if we are hanging on to a rope that is dangling off a cliff.

In an issue of Presbyterians Today, Rev. Kris Haig reminds us each about the Sabbath.

“In Exodus, we are told we must keep Sabbath because God kept Sabbath. As creatures made in God’s image, we are invited to participate in God’s own rhythm of creating and resting, taking time to savor the goodness of what has been made.

This Sabbath rest is a far cry from our usual experience of ‘rest.’ For us, the model is to work ourselves to the point of utter exhaustion and then crash. Biblical Sabbath keeping is impossible in such a state, as it requires the capacity to enjoy the gifts of life—good food, beauty, loving relationships, recreation, sacred texts, and relaxation. None of these are possible for exhausted zombies.

Sabbath is a living testimony to the God who seeks to free us—from literal enslavements and from all forms of compulsive behavior.”

Folks, we need to make time to for Sabbath—even driven Type A- To-Do-list-people like me. We need to make time each day to slow down, to let go of the negative energy that so often finds its way into our beings and instead fill our lives with goodness that God has given to us and surrounded us with each day.

I promise the world will continue to bombard us with all the things that must be done NOW. However, scripture tells us that all of those things are temporary and that the only permanence is found in our relationship with God.

As Paul said in his 2nd Letter to the Church at Corinth, “because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”

So may our true outlook be on growing in our faith and our love for God and in sharing that faith and exhibiting that love with all of God’s creation.

In the name of God who is our creator, our redeemer, and our sustainer both now and forevermore. Alleluia, Amen.


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