Sunday, August 28, 2016
To such love
I don’t exactly fit into any of the aforementioned categories, but I do know that I, along with the rest of the race, am disposed to indiscipline. Some people who know me imagine I am more disciplined than I am. That can only be in comparison with someone else. My house is as much a shambles as anyone’s.
That thought came to mind, ‘people are undisciplined,’ as I was walking up to the supermarket door this Sunday afternoon to buy a couple of things I’d forgotten during the week. I have a saying, ‘I never feel guilty,’ which again proved itself an exaggeration, because I always feel guilty when shopping on Sunday.
Even at sixty-five years of age, I’ve never been able to shake off the idea that Sunday is the Lord’s day, the Christian fulfillment of the Sabbath law, making the morning purely His—I’ll see you at church; don’t be late!—and the afternoon, not exactly mine, but Somebody else’s too, who wants me to stay at home.
He wants me to stay at home, to abstain from worldly pursuits, foremost of which is going shopping. Instead I am supposed to ‘rest’ to honor His commandment and His seventh-day rest after creating the world. When I was a child, society enforced obedience to the commandments: the shops were closed.
People had to exercise at least a little discipline in managing their households and their affairs, because they knew that the world did not operate round-the-clock. After six, working people went home to their families. Saturdays, some worked, but never on Sunday. The only exceptions were maintenance workers.
Hospitals had to work twenty-four seven as they still do. So did the police. So did any number of other types of employment. Yes, there were round-the-clock factories. I worked graveyard shift in one once, and I know the feeling of getting off work at sunrise. But still, Sunday was Sunday, even on the farm.
As a young hired man on a dairy farm, Sunday belonged to the Lord—and to the cows! But farmer Cameron, my boss, insisted that I do no field work or other unnecessary labor that day. Milk the cows before breakfast and let them go. Round them up and milk them in the evening. Rest in between.
People are undisciplined. We like to have freedom to do absolutely whatever we want, without restrictions of any kind, except that we do not hurt anyone. As a democratic society, we’ve gradually loosened and then discarded all the rules that were put there to help keep us out of trouble.
They were obviously written by the ruling class to keep us in our place. It never occurs to us, unless we are Christians or Jews, that social restrictions such as those that regulated past societies were actually put there to compensate for popular indiscipline, to keep us from harming ourselves, to protect society.
The Sabbath law, one day in seven free of servile labor, even if the day weren’t used to honor God, was pleasing to everyone once. Legislation doubled it to two days’ length in most countries—Saturday (the original Jewish Sabbath) and Sunday (the Christian equivalent), but its original reason was forgotten.
The human organism lives in cycles. God, or social evolution, determined that one seventh of our waking time needs to be set aside in relative inactivity in order for the organism to stay physically healthy and to remain emotionally (and spiritually) integrated. To take a day off means to take a day off—yet we work!
What should be the easiest thing in the world to do turns out to be the hardest, even for me. Here I am. I was feeling sick this morning (from over-eating last night) and so missed church. I recovered sufficiently to go to the church, where a festival was taking place, to greet friends and to support the community.
After staying less than an hour, I came home, stopping on the way at the supermarket to buy milk and juices. Now, here I am sitting at my console typing a confession of my own indiscipline soon to hit the online public. What should I be doing? What should be the easiest thing—take a break! He commands it.
Yes, He—He commands it. He tells me, ‘for your own good, lay aside the things of this world, you can talk to that world tomorrow, just settle in, it’s a beautiful day, I made it for your pleasure, just use it,’ and I think I’m almost convinced. But what of next time? And this day is more than half spent.
‘Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself,’ came directly to my mind, which also yearns to rest. How right God is! How generous, how loving and thoughtful! How He prepares everything for us! And how difficult it is for us to surrender to such love!
at 4:00 PM