When Less Becomes More

With each new day of the coronavirus crisis, we are being faced with challenges we never would have anticipated just a few weeks ago and forced to make decisions we’re not thrilled about.

As each new day breaks with a presidential news conference, an update on the coronavirus numbers, and another layer of guidelines and restrictions, we’re informed of something more we’ll have to live without or something less we’ll be able to do.

What are we supposed to do? What are we supposed to do when we can’t do what we normally do? It’s already getting frustrating isn’t it? This all feels so strange. Like a fish out of water.

The world is on lockdown, we’re stuck at home, feeling isolated, trying to be productive, and we’re already starting to feel pushed to our limits. And we’re only a few days into this!

We’re all feeling pushed out of our normal limits and our normal schedule.

That makes this a great time for us to find our limits, find that we have limits, and begin asking deeper questions.

Here’s one to get your imagination working.

What can this season of slowing down, staying home, and suspended schedules reveal about our need for the gift of rest, and what does it reveal about our tendency to resist it when we’re not normally forced to stop?

Sabbath means “stop”, and regular stopping is a gift from God given for our well-being. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2.27). For the moment, the stopping is involuntary. No one wants this present state of lockdown to last forever.

But just for a moment, while we find ourselves isolated in the quiet solitude of the eye of a storm swirling around us, let’s try to imagine a less-busy life when things get back to normal. Restful evenings. Meals together. Slower Saturdays. Room to breathe. Space on the calendar. Spacious life.

One of the things I find myself wondering is if one of the things God is working for our good in all of this bad is to make us slow down enough to taste the good gift of rest that we normally tend to resist when we’re left to ourselves to manage our own schedules. And then, having tasted it, to be trained by it to manage our time more wisely than we did.

The Apostle Paul said, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15–16).

We Americans tend to read that verse as a call to productivity and busyness. But if rest is a good gift from God, then maybe the best way overbusy, overloaded, overwhelmed people can use their time is to start taking more time to rest.

Try putting it on your calendar (hint: it looks like blank space). You might need to start saying “no” more often than you have before. Scale back. Draw some fresh boundaries. Make some space.

Let’s see this as a time of pruning. Let’s see the things we don’t really need to be doing all the time. Let’s focus on what’s essential. So that when this is over, we don’t have to go back to the old, exhausting normal but can look forward to experiencing a new normal. And then let’s enjoy it as a gift from God.

Saying “no” to more and “yes” to less is just one of the ways we can experience Jesus’ gentle invitation to “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28–30 28)

Published by Scott W. Kay

II serve as the pastor of Grace Church in Alpharetta, GA. I have previously pastored a church in Texas and another in Georgia. My wife and I have four children. I earned a B.A. in Biblical Studies from The Criswell College in Dallas, TX (1994), and then a Master of Divinity in 2006 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (2006).

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