Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fallow Ground

This year I decided to take a year off – of leadership. By that I mean I decided not to get involved in ADPi, not to volunteer with any other student organization, not to volunteer in leadership at my church (when I found one) until after my first year of graduate school at UCLA. This decision was not made specifically to honor the Sabbath year, so don’t read it that way. It was a survival method for me – I knew this first year would be challenging and I elected to protect my time and emotions by ensuring I was not overcommitted (at least not until year two, when I would have a better idea of what I was getting myself into).

But this morning, as I was enjoying my quiet time, I was thinking about the biblical and agricultural principles of providing the land with a Sabbath rest. One of the neat things about living in a farming community in Illinois was the opportunity to see Corn and Soybeans planted and also to see plots of land lay fallow in their off year. From how I understand it, Corn is a particularly taxing crop for soil. It takes a lot of nutrients out, and so if you continue to sow those seeds, you will get decreasingly good soil for your crop. Every so many years, then, the farmers will leave the plot unsown, in order for it to rest and be restored. (this farming example is poor, and likely incomplete, but it serves its purpose)

The bible also talks about resting the land every 7th year. I love that there is a biblical principle for people (resting every seventh day) that also applies to nature (every 7th year). There is a great symmetry in it, and a reminder that our God is not only the God of Humans, but truly the God of all Creation. Anyway, the principle of the Sabbath is very important in the Old Testament. (click here for verses) And it is a principle that I think is important to our lives today – especially in instant-everything world we live in.

As I was thinking this morning, I was considering how much I am looking forward to next year. I am excited to get back involved with undergraduate students and to potentially serve as a sorority house manager or advisor. I am in good anticipation of how the Lord will call me to serve in the next year – though it is a long way off.

If I had gone straight from Baylor to UCLA volunteering, I would be worn out. It certainly would have been difficult to go from advising ADPi at Baylor to at UCLA. I would have missed the women so much! It is nice to know that I can be refreshed this year by the Lord and work on the things He wants me to (like regular bible study and prayer, etc), and know that this is my Sabbath year. A year dedicated to getting refreshed and recharged and preparing myself for the next opportunity to minister for Him.

And so tonight, as I stop studying for a night, but take care of other things – groceries. Housekeeping, reading, and watching a movie, I am grateful that the principle of a Sabbath is so important to those of us who are in Christ. And I’m glad that the Lord set an example for me of rest, because without it I would be trying to read right now, and not doing a very good job of it!

** Should we keep a Sabbath? My friend, Derek, argues that this is not a law we must obey based on the New Testament commands and covenants (Jesus apparently does not repeat this command during his ministry). But I disagree, to some extent. I think that Jesus, in his New Testament comments regarding the Sabbath, tries to redeem the idea and meaning of the Sabbath from the Pharisees who had made it into something legalistic. Jesus continually clarifies that the Sabbath is not meant to be a time of legalistic observation: – be wise – if you need to water your flock, or rescue an animal from a ditch, by all means do it; be wise – if someone needs help on the Sabbath, don’t withhold it just because you are not supposed to work – help them. The law of God is bigger than the Sabbath. I think Jesus didn’t reemphasize the keeping of the Sabbath because he expected people to keep it. But I think he doesn’t expect us to keep it in a legalistic rigid way like the Pharisees did.


Mel Gruver said...

Sometimes you gotta pull the ox out of the ditch. That was Jesus. Remember Jesus?

Anyway- I LOVED this post. One day soon I will tell you what I have been thinking lately along these lines.