What a pity it is that often it takes circumstances beyond our control to make us take the breaks we need.
Keeping Sunday special
When I was growing up, for most people, Sunday was a day of rest. The shops were closed, there were few sporting or other events going on. After church on a Sunday was for relaxing and for family...not any more it seems. Looking back over the topics of my recent magazine articles I realise that this is the third time in a year I have written on different aspects the subject rest - clearly it has been engaging me, but not just me, the pace and relentlessness of modern life is also a topic people frequently talk to me about.
How much, I wonder, has the loss of the traditional Sunday contributed to the over-busy feeling that many people have today? We used to more or less have to take a break on Sundays. Now we don't.
Church - something we can do without?
When our diaries are over full/ we look ways to free it up a bit. Going to church - that's something we don't have to do, why not cut it back or out altogether? That would free up Sunday morning for real relaxation. Would it? Or would we simply fill the time with some frenetic activity.
Jesus said, 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.' Our restless hearts will not find peace anywhere else. That time on a Sunday spent in prayer and worship, plays an essential part in enabling is to find the true source of rest, Jesus. The traditional Sunday of church, lunch, relaxation had much to be said for it - it is no longer more or less compulsory, but we can, and should, plan for it.
I was travelling up for a conference in Leicestershire by car with three others. We were chatting away and the driver missed the motorway exit. Never mind, coming off the motorway at the next exit would be almost as good ... then the traffic ground to a halt.
We waited and waited, and then learned that the reason for the delay was that someone was threatening to throw themselves off a bridge about a mile further on. The emergency services were trying to persuade him to come down.
We prayed for the person and that those endeavouring to help would be successful and then waited and waited. Conversation fell quiet. We then found out that the person's family was being brought up from London in the hope that they could convince the person to come down from the bridge. That wasn't going to happen quickly and all we could do was wait.
Rest is good
After well over four hours the traffic began to move. We believe that the family had been successful. Of course we missed the first part of the conference, including the introductory session, on the face of it annoying, but, reflecting on the whole bizarre after noon, I felt that the enforced rest had probably done me more good than the opening part of the conference would have.
During the delay we had briefly conversed about the relentless pressure of working life. One member of the party reflected on an occasion when it had all become too much and he was unable to think straight at all. His wife had packed him off into a quiet room with a Soduko puzzle book and told him that he was not to emerge until he had fully relaxed. How right she was. Just two days ago I had another enforced break of several hours. I'll spare you the details, but again, looking back I realised that the waiting had been good for me.