Sometimes God gives us good gifts in unexpected ways. This is one of those times.
As a culture we have been busy and stressed, running from one thing to the next without a break. We have gotten used to a high stock market and a low level of discourse. We have been obsessed with sports and entertainment, and we have grown accustomed to constant sniping, bickering, and disunity in Washington, D. C. We have even taken for granted the ability to go to church, treating it the way a consumer purchases a product or selects a restaurant in which to dine.
This week, suddenly we have to stop. It’s as if God is saying, “Everybody take five.” Stop taking your health, money, food, school, job, and church for granted. Quit majoring in minor things. Remember what’s really important. Stop being too busy to pray. Quit overlooking the elderly, the sick, and the isolated. And yes, you can even quit going to school and church for a while (or at least change the way you’ve been doing them). For a bit of time yet to be determined, just stop.
God built sabbath rest into his law, not to burden us but to bless us. “The sabbath was made for man,” Jesus said (Mark 2:27). God knows we need a break now and then—a time to “take five,” rest, recuperate, and recalibrate our souls. But in typical fashion, as if we know better than the Creator, we humans rush right over the God-given speed bumps and keep going until our spiritual fuel tanks are empty and our bodies are ready to crash. God told the ancient Israelites to let their land rest every seventh year, but they ignored his instructions and kept farming the land year after year without a break. In time the Lord allowed the Babylonians to carry the Jewish people into exile, and in that way the “land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested” (2 Chronicles 36:21).
So during these unprecedented days, let’s “take five.” Find new ways to rest, worship, pray, and serve.
And let’s also “give five.” Throughout the day, take five minutes here and there to serve someone else. Phone a shut-in. Write an encouraging note. Text a friend. Talk and play with your children. Check on a neighbor who lives alone. Stop and pray for someone who’s lonely. Reach out to a missionary or a soldier stationed overseas.
This is a time to “take five,” but as Jesus reminded us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). “Social distancing” doesn’t have to mean relational distancing. This is a great time for Christ-followers to serve a world in turmoil. Let’s make the most of every opportunity. Let’s be living examples of God’s calming peace and his unselfish love. It’s time to take five—and give five, too.