by Pastor Roger Thompson
“No one in the history of humankind has ever had to live with the stressors we have acting upon us today. They are unprecedented. The human spirit is called upon to withstand pressures that have never before been encountered.” (Richard Swenson, author of Margin)
And parents, often unknowingly, are passing this unprecedented pressure right on down to the next generation. One glance at our adult calendars, or one attempt to gather the whole family together for an evening, will reveal “the stressors” Richard Swenson writes about. Have we forgotten something?
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the 7th day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work; you, or your son or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is with in your gates. (Ex. 20:10)
Don’t forget to rest! This is not a legalistic rule. It is a fact hardwired into our design. We ignore this to our own peril, and to the detriment of our children. So, I have one central idea for all parents to help us remember what we have forgotten:
Play is the missing sabbath in suburban childhood. “Go out and play” is seldom heard, yet child psychologists (trailing several millennia behind scripture) consistently affirm that kids playing together helps with socialization, imagination, physical fitness, and lowered anxiety. Don’t plan it, organize it, or get involved in it. Play isn’t measurable. It’s not organized. It’s not supposed to produce anything. It doesn’t cost anything or require a special facility. Turn your kids loose to their own resources and imaginations with safe boundaries. Play is rest from the over-scheduled pressures of little league. Play is not about skill development. It’s not about practice. It’s not about schedules, accomplishments, and score-keeping. You’ll know it’s play when you have to call them in for supper, or require the neighbor kid to go home. Play loses track of time because it’s, well, play.
And, maybe you’ve forgotten how to play, or take sabbath breaks yourself. Take a regular sabbath. Maybe not a whole day, but in sections of your week. Cease producing. Stop scheduling. Enjoy relationships. Linger over a meal. Find a hammock. Read a book. Trust God. Recognize that God is running the universe, and stop long enough to recognize that He does this quite well so that you can rest in His provision. Don’t forget to rest.