Some of my favourite cartoons growing up were those involving Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf. Most of the cartoons start at the beginning of the workday, in which Ralph and Sam go to a meadow where sheep graze. They engage in chitchat and punch into the same time clock. Work having officially begun, Ralph repeatedly tries to abduct the helpless sheep and invariably fails, either through his own ineptitude or the minimal efforts of Sam. Despite appearing dull, Sam is always in the right place at the right time to thwart any of Ralph’s schemes that don’t manage to thwart themselves. He is never shown moving quickly to get there, as if he either knew in advance where he would be needed, or has the power to teleport himself at will. At the end-of-the-day whistle, Sam and Ralph punch out their time cards, chat amiably, and leave, presumably only to come back the next day and do it all again. In at least one instance, the workday is interrupted by a lunch break where they enjoy one another’s company before entering back into the fray. When Ralph and Sam were on, they were on – but when it was quitting time, they quit.
Ralph and Sam understood that we cannot be all work and no play. They also understood that we are not solely defined by what we do. The human body and human mind is not designed to run at full throttle all the time. We need to have a break, we need to cease at times in order to run at our optimal performance. In fact, God takes rest so seriously that He not only modelled it for us, He listed it in the ten commandments.
Exodus 20: 8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy”.
The command for Sabbath allows us to rest. It frees us from the temptation to be defined by what we do. It also does something else. It allows us to focus on God. It is the fourth commandment, the first commandment was God reminded us that He is the one and only God, the second was don’t make any images of God, the third don’t misuse God’s name, and then in the fourth commandment we get to something practical. Rest, and focus on God – this week.
We are not designed to be all work and no rest. This week enjoy some “quitting time” just as God invited you to.