Jeff Haanen


The Bible sets a pattern of work and rest. “Six days you shall labor 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,” (Exodus 20:9-10). Six days are for work. Produce, create, and make. Yet one day there is to be no work whatsoever. It is a day of rest, a day of worship. Work is good – but God limits our cultural production, lest it become our driving force and make us slaves once again, as we were in Egypt.

Two weeks ago I received a phone call from my step mother. There had been an accident. She and my dad were at a grocery store, weary from a long trip back to Minneapolis from the lake. My step mom went to the deli to get a small dinner, and my dad needed to use the bathroom. While in the bathroom, his gun (he regularly conceals and carries) slipped out of his hands, fell to the ground, and fired a round. It pierced a hole in his shin. My step mother had left her cell phone in her car; my dad called and received no answer. He cried for help, and finally she returned to see him reeling with pain, soaked in blood, on the bathroom floor.

My dad is okay. He needed immediate surgery, and now has an titanium tibia. Yet I was jarred by the news. The bullet could have strayed – and been deadly. In a moment, I might have lost my father. After I found out, I booked a flight on Southwest for that same evening to visit my dad at North Memorial Hospital.  I had several things planned for the next two days. But in a time like this, work stops.

It’s not quite right to say, as many do, “At the end of your days, will you really care whether you spent another day in the office?” Those who say this mean well, but it means work is ultimately meaningless. I would say to that person, “Perhaps you should have done different work.”

Yet we must say that work is not ultimate. God is ultimate. And we immortal creatures dance on the edge of eternity each day. There must come a time, ideally one day out of every seven, when we step back and consider the great expanse of lives, and what (and who) deserves our greatest attention. On January 24, that object of my attention was my father.

Discussion question: Do you practice Sabbath? If not, why? If so, how do you use your time of rest well?

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