Sleep, Rest, Sabbath

Do you control your schedule, or does your schedule control you?

Scripture References & Transcript

Mark 6:30-34

Psalm 23:1-3

Ephesians 5:15-17

If you go home this afternoon and you take a book, any book off of the shelf and open it up, and you look around the outside of the text, you’ll find a space that is called the, it’s like two of you know what that space is called. There’s a space around the text in a book. It’s blank and it’s called the Margin.

There we go. We don’t have many books left apparently anymore. But if you open up a book, you find that there’s a margin there. Now, the reason that we have a margin is because originally when we had printing presses, there was always a certain amount of error that happened anytime we’d print. And so they created the margin so that when they printed the document, they printed the book that the text wouldn’t be cut off the edge of the page. Now we have printers that are far more advanced than that. They don’t have to worry about getting the some part cut off that wasn’t intended to be cut off. And yet we still have a margin. And the reason for that is because of the way that your brain works. And my brain works that if there’s not some type of a space, if they take a page and they feel it completely with words all the way out to the edges, that in the back of your mind, your brain gets stressed, it makes you slightly anxious.

It’s not as relaxing of a book to read your life. My life operates the same way that we need a healthy amount of margin inside of our lives. And when we don’t have healthy margin, what happens? Well, either some of the important stuff, the text gets cut out of our life, or because we filled so much onto the plate, we start to get anxious and stressed because of how much stuff there is there. I want you to ask yourself a reflective question for a moment. And that’s simply this. On a scale of one to 10, how much margin do you feel you have in your life? Pause and think for a second. How much margin you say, I’ve got 10, I got all the margin in the world, or, oh no, I’m just a one. I have no margin at all right now. And that leads to this thought, this question, do you control your schedule or does your schedule control you?

Dr. Richard Swenson wrote a book called Margin, and in that book he defines for us what margin is. He says, this margin is the space between your load and your limits. If you’re overloaded by definition, you have no margin. There has to be some time in your life for healing and restoration time to nourish your relationships. Take a deep breath and get your batteries recharged. Of course, there will always be times when you can’t avoid working beyond your human limits, but you can learn to recognize those times and then take responsibility for introducing some margin into your life. Now, it’s interesting that what we’ve talked about a lot in the sermon series is how modern psychology is oftentimes reflecting truths that we find in scripture. If you’ve got a Bible, turn with me to Mark chapter six. We’re gonna look at just a few verses in Mark chapter six.

But this is the context that Jesus is at really the beginning push of his ministry. And he’s just sent out his disciples. His disciples have gone all over the land proclaiming the name of Jesus, proclaiming that the kingdom of God is at hand and that it’s come and they’ve just recently come back. And here is what we find in Mark chapter six, starting in verse 30. It says, the apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to him, come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while now. Now pause for a second and just think, if you are an entrepreneur, think that you own a business and your business is starting to catch fire, and all of a sudden the word is getting out and you’ve just had an explosion of popularity, probably in that moment, your mindset is put the pedal to the metal.

In that moment, your mindset is, let’s keep going, let’s keep charging. Let’s, let’s keep getting out there. There there’s an expression that we use in culture that I will sleep when I’m dead. That idea that no, just keep going, keep sprinting. And now Jesus knew that his ministry would only be three years. He, he gets crucified when he’s 33 years old. He starts his ministry when he’s 30 years old. He’s got a very small window to transform the entire globe. And yet, right in a moment when the message is getting out there, when the popularity is exploding, when people are hearing the proclamation of the truth of the name of Jesus, what does he say? He says, let’s stop and rest. Jesus recognizes how important it is for himself to rest. We see that throughout the gospels. But not only that, he recognizes the importance of his followers, of his disciples to rest.

He goes on to it goes on to say, for, uh, many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now, many saw ’em go in and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. Now, I, I don’t think it’s an accident that you have, uh, these two connected pieces of information that first he recognizes how struggling, how, how tired his disciples are. So he gets them to rest, he forces them to rest, and then he runs into the crowd and the crowd is bustling about and they’re chasing after him.

And then he uses a term to describe him. He says that they are like sheep without a shepherd. Now, oftentimes in scripture we see this same type of analogy used where God talks about us people as sheep and God being our shepherd. But what happens is that the further we are removed from an agrarian society, the further we are removed from the first century, the less that analogy really makes sense to us. Uh, like just show of hands, how many of you have ever shepherded sheep before you’ve spent a lot of times out in the field shepherding? Uh, I got, I got a couple. There’s a couple people out there that have done it. So there’s always like two or three, but most of us have no clue what that means, that sheep need a shepherd. One of the most famous passages in all of scripture, it’s Psalm 23.

It’s a Psalm of David. It David was a shepherd when he takes his experience as a shepherd shepherding sheep and ties it to the analogy between us and God. And this is what David says in Psalm chapter 23. He says, the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides Stillwaters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Now, what’s interesting about this passage is it says in the second part that he makes me lie down in green pastures. It doesn’t say he encourages me to lie down. It doesn’t say he wants me to lie down. He says, if I’m a sheep and the Lord God is my shepherd, he makes me, he forces me. Because that’s actually what shepherds do. That shepherds, if they don’t force their sheep to rest, sheep will just run, run, run until they run themselves ragged and ultimately injure or kill themselves.

And so part of a big part of shepherd and sheep is making them rest, making them lie down. And then it goes on to say that he restores my soul. I I think here’s one of the challenges when we talk about this concept of rest, is that sometimes our mind of how we interpret rest is really different than the biblical understanding of rest, that we think of rest as well. I need to sit down on the couch and watch more tv that gives me more rest. And really that’s not what it’s talking about. The biblically rest is things that restore my soul. It’s resting in the presence of God. It’s resting in holy relationships that God has given me. It’s resting in things that God has given me an opportunity to restore my soul with. But what often happens is we don’t end up restoring our soul.

We don’t find that rest in God because we don’t allow God to do this part, the making us lie down and rest. John Ortman is a member of our church. He comes from the nine o’clock. He sits right up there in the balcony, and he grew up as a shepherd. He had family that owned sheep. And so he would spend his entire summer shepherding sheep. And here’s what he described as his role of a shepherd. He said, the general rule of herding sheep is that you are slowing the front of the flock down 80% of the time and speeding up the stragglers the other 20%. He said you’d have this huge flock of sheep. And and the problem is that at the front, you’d have ones that would just take off and they’d start running in different directions. And their goal would be as a shepherd to get the sheep to take one bite of grass every step that they take.

That’s the healthy way for them to graze. But the ones at the front, they would take a bite and then they’d kind of sprint ahead, and then they’d take a bite and then they’d sprint ahead. And so he said 80% of his time was at the front trying to make those sheep that were out in the front, slow down and rest. And then the other 20% of the time was taking the stragglers on the very back and getting them to speed back up. He said that if they didn’t take them to water to lead them to water and force them to lie down and arrest, that, that sheep would literally kill themselves by running too hard, running too fast. Throughout all scripture, we see this analogy of sheep and shepherd and and you’ve probably heard a lot of people talk about how dumb sheep are, and that’s, that’s just factually true.

There’s a news article, the Associated Press put out in 2015. It was July of 2000, excuse me, 2005, July of 2005. It was just outside of Istanbul, Turkey. Uh, there was a little town and that town, uh, their primary livelihood was their sheep. Each family inside the town owned about 20 sheep. They, the sheep would all come together collectively to form one big herd. It was about 1,500 sheep. And one morning the shepherds weren’t doing a very good job of paying attention to the sheep. They were having breakfast, and this sheep found the ledge of a cliff. It’s a 50 foot drop. And so one sheep takes off that direction and goes off the cliff. And then the other 1,500 sheep followed behind that sheep off the cliff. And now the crazy part about this story is it’s only a 50 foot cliff, enough to kill sheep, but not enough to wear the sheep at the top.

Couldn’t have heard what was going on at the bottom. Like if you’re, let’s say that you’re sheep number 1000 and that everybody is moving a certain direction, like at some point you probably should be able to hear the agonizing death and pain that’s on the other edge of the cliff and decide, wait a second. Maybe I shouldn’t go that direction, but sheep or dumb. And so it wasn’t just that 50 sheep went off the edge and then the rest were like, oh, we shouldn’t do that. It was that every single sheep without exception went over the edge of the cliff. Now, there’s some slightly silver lining to it. The first 450 sheep died when they went over the edge, but they created enough of a blanket for the next 1050 sheep that the next thousand sheep actually survived going off the edge because they landed on soft, fluffy, dead sheep <laugh>. True story. You can look it up. True story.

Have you ever wondered if there are things that exist in our life that we are just maybe sheep 1000 and we’re just running full speed the same direction as every other sheep, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s what everybody else is doing. Without considering the destination, without considering the danger, without considering to stop, to reflect, to listen, and to hear that, well, why would I go that direction? All I hear is pain and suffering. But how often do we just charge with the crowd? Dr. Adam Atler is a psychologist at N Y U University. He had a famous Ted Talk a few years ago, and in his Ted Talk, he, he talks about one of the main things that he studies and that is just essentially human welfare, where we spend our time, what we’re doing with life. And he comes up with this chart where he takes three different years, three different points in time, 2007, 2015, 2017.

He hasn’t updated it since then, but I would imagine that it’s the same, if not worse. But he points out that in 2007, 2015, 2017, uh, really the, the bulk of our time has not changed. Uh, so this dark blue over here, this is how much time you and I sleep on average. And so really we’re sleeping about the same as we did in 2007. This is the amount of work we do. So that’s your work plus your commute. That really hasn’t changed hardly at all. Insignificant amount of change that’s happened there. Then there’s amount of your life that is survival. So those are the things like you’ve gotta eat, you’ve gotta bathe, you’ve got to go to the bathroom. So, so that amount of our life is about the same, but there’s been a radical shift that’s happened in this latter part of our life.

Uh, this is the part of our life that he calls the personal part of your life. Now, he would also say that this is the most important part of your life. Why? Because at the end of your life, when you look back on your life and you would say, these are the things that define who I am, your relationships, the most important places where you spent your time, he’d say, all that comes from here. Uh, you don’t remember when you’re asleep. So much of your, your work and your career, it kind of changes, but it all blurs together. Uh, survival is, is kind of this just piece that we have to do, but this is what defines us. And the reason that he chose 2007 as the first year to do the study is because guess what did not exist in 2007. The smartphone. The smartphone wasn’t used by everybody at that point.

It wasn’t the social norm. And so in 2007, the red here in these three, that’s how much screen time that people used on average a day. So in 2007, it was just this little sliver. Then you jump ahead to 2015 and all of a sudden screen time has exploded and it takes up more and more and more of that personal space. And then you compare it to 2017 and it takes up, we’ve inverted that amount of time. So that small sliver, that screen time was in 2007, has now become that yellow is the only amount of time that we have left that’s not consumed by screens. He, he would say, the most valuable time you have is this little sliver at the end of your life. When you regret things in life, it’s gonna come down to regrets that you didn’t do with this time.

At the end of your life, when you think back on the best moments in life, it’s going to be what happened in between these two lines. That this is what defines your life. It is what defines my life. And sadly, what’s happened is more and more and more of that time, we’ve followed the sheep right off the edge of the cliff. My guess is that at night, when you’re going to sleep, the very last thing that you do when you go to sleep is that you check your cell phone. And I’m not saying that you do that because you’re different. I’m saying that you probably do that because it’s also what I do right before I go to bed at night, I pull out my cell phone, and if you’re anything like me, here’s how a typical night goes is my wife and I say, Hey, let’s try and be in bed by nine 30.

Now, some of you in this room that you think nine 30 sounds so late, and you’re just shocked that I would go to bed that late. And then others of you in this room, uh, you hear nine 30 and you say, he is so old. I can’t believe he goes to bed that early. And the time of bed that you go at night shows a lot about where you are in life and where you are with family and where you are with kids. But we go, we try and go to bed about nine 30, wake up pretty early. That’s the time that I go to bed. And most of the time I do get in bed by nine 30, but what do I do the moment that I get in bed? I, I just have a few things I need to check on my phone.

And so I just, I just start to check those few things. And in my mind, when I start checking my phone, I think it’s just five minutes. That’s all that’s gonna happen. It’s gonna spend five minutes checking my phone, and then what time do I actually go to sleep? It’s like 9 50, 10 o’clock. Because before I know it, I’ve spent twenty five, thirty minutes on my phone. And I know people always have some type of an excuse or rationale, well, don’t you understand, I need to have my phone right by my bed because it’s my alarm clock. And I love that excuse. It’s like, we hadn’t solved that problem 25 years ago. It’s like, oh, if only there was a device that could wake me up in the morning, ah, this is the only option that I have, is the cell phone. And we know you, you’ve had somebody tell you that you shouldn’t check your phone before you go to bed, and yet, I’m not gonna make you raise your hand, but I would bet that 95% of the people in the room, the last thing you do before you go to bed is you check your phone.

And, and here’s what’s even crazier. Guess what? The first thing you do when you wake up is you go back to the phone. Whoa. Oh. And naturally it’s my alarm clock. And so I have to turn it off. And then I got a few things I wanna check. Nevermind the fact that I just checked those things when I was going to bed. I’m gonna check ’em again now that I’ve woke up and I convinced myself that that’s a norm that I need to do. It’s helping my mind wake up. I’m checking the weather. These are good things, but what is it doing? It’s just consuming more and more and more of my life. And my point in saying that is not to say that cell phones are evil, cell phones are wrong, that you need to get rid of it. But it is to say we should at least recognize how easily our time disappears on things that we’re not intending to spend our time on.

In 2007, no one said My cell phone is going to start to consume all of that extra personal time that I have. It’s just gonna consume the vast majority of it. But that’s what ends up happening. And I think the challenge, when you talk about margin and you talk about rest and finding rest, I think the challenge is always that in our mind, we think that where you spend your time is always this obligation of choosing between good things and bad things. Well, I’m going to fill my time, fill my life with more good things and do less bad things. But I, I found that rarely is that the equation. The equation is almost always I am choosing between good things and other good things, and I’m trying to fill all the good things in, and I’m sometimes missing out on the best things you see.

If you want margin in your life, if you want rest in your life, rest that restores your soul, then it means that you have to be able to examine your life and say, there are areas in my life that are good things, wonderful things, healthy things, but they’re not the best thing. They’re not the most important thing. And therefore, I’m going to cut pieces of that out of my life. I think Paul describes this really well. In Ephesians chapter five, I really want to unpack what this scripture says. Each one of these yellow words that we’ll look at in detail in a second, if you’ve got the Cherry Hills mobile app, you can follow along with everything that I have on the screen. In the notes that are to come, you’ll find an app. But Paul says, look carefully then how you walk. It can also be translated as look carefully how you spend your time, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time.

Because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Let, let’s look at that verse by verse, because I think when we do, it helps it really make sense in the context of what we’re talking about. So starting in verse 16, it says this, or excuse me, 15. It starts with that word look carefully, which is the word in Greek bleo. Uh, that word means to discern mentally, to observe, to perceive, to consider, to contemplate, to take heeded. So what’s Paul starting with? He’s saying, don’t just haphazardly go through life. Don’t just do things because you’re supposed to do things. He says, no, instead, take a step back and look at your life. And he says to bleo, look carefully discern, observe intentionally make a decision on how you’re using your life. And then he compares and contrasts the unwise and the wise, the unwise.

Uh, that’s a word that means without reason. It’s senseless, it’s without reflection, it’s acting rashly. I would say a lot of the time that we waste in life, it’s because we use time unwisely, we use it senselessly, we use it without rational. We use it without evaluating it. It’s just what happens. All of a sudden you have some excess time, some spare time on a Sunday afternoon, on a Saturday afternoon, on a workday. When you go home at night and you decide, I’m just gonna sit down on the couch and you throw on the tv, is that an intentional decision of using that time? Or is it No, I’m just, I’m just filling the time with something. And, and again, my point here is not saying that TV is evil. I think TV can be a good thing. I think, I think it can be a healthy thing, but I also think it can be an unhealthy thing.

I think the bigger p piece, the bigger picture is are you intentionally using that time or is it unintentional? And then verse 16, and in verse 16, he says, making the best. Uh, it’s an interesting word in the Greek ’cause it’s zo sozo is a merchant term in the first century, a merchant term that when a merchant would see something that was undervalued in price, uh, they would recognize a good, they would recognize, uh, an item and they’d say, okay, I can purchase this at this price, and it’s much cheaper than what I know I can sell it for. So it’s the same as first century, uh, this idea of, okay, I’m, I’m selling something, and so I’m buying something, and so I can buy it for really cheap and I can sell it for a whole lot. And so that word exo is when they are, oftentimes that word gets, uh, translated as the word redeemed because you’re taking advantage of something.

Okay? It’s, it’s being sold for too little. I can sell it for a lot. And so I’m going to redeem that item for what its fair value is. It’s being undervalued, and I can value for it for a whole lot more. So for us, when he tells us that we’re supposed to exit garage or make the best use out of our time, he’s telling us that we need to redeem our time. He’s saying that we need to take advantage of our time. He’s saying that our time has a lot of value, and when we waste that time, uh, we are not redeeming it, we’re not making the best out of it. And then he uses this interesting phrase. He says, the reason we’re supposed to make the best out of our time is because the days are evil. Now, the word evil, uh, when you read through the New Testament, there’s two different Greek words that get translated as evil.

One is the word CCOs, which is a general term for bad or evil or wicked. Uh, but there’s another term, and this is the term that he uses in verse 16, it’s the word eros. Ponderous concentrates on the results of evil. So to put it simply, eros denotes evil that causes labor, causes pain, causes sorrow, causes future evil. So if you put these together, it’s this idea where he’s saying, redeem your time because the days that we live in are evil, evil. I think there’s two different ways that you could translate that, and both work both make sense. I, I think on the one hand, it could be that he’s saying, you need to redeem your time because the world that we live in is broken in full of sin, of sin that the, that devil comes to steal, to kill and destroy. And so our culture around us, the world is trying to rob your time and waste your time.

It’s trying to make your time evil. It’s trying to make it painful and sorrowful. And the way that it could do that is simply by wasting your time, by filling it up with things that don’t matter. And so it could be that Paul is telling us to redeem our time to buy back our time and not waste it on things that don’t matter. Another way to interpret it would be that Paul is saying upon us that the world we live in is full of evil, of pain and suffering because we live in a broken world. People get sick and people die. So it could be that he’s saying that you need to make the most use of your time because tomorrow is not promised. ’cause probably in the next few months, someone, you know, maybe you personally will get sick, probably in the next few months, you will attend a funeral.

If someone who will die at some point, that will be you. And so you have this limited finite resource called time that eventually will be gone, but gone before you know it. And you say, knowing how limited it is, because this world is broken, because this world has sickness and pain and death. Knowing those things, are you going to redeem the time that you have left? Are you gonna fill it up with healthy, godly things or are you going to waste it? Then in verse 17, he says that we are to be genom. It means to become. He’s saying the doing of his will, God’s will is not a matter of irrational impulse, but of intelligent reflection and action. And this last verse in verse 17, he’s now saying, don’t just waste your time. You need to redeem the time. But what are you redeeming the time for?

He says that, redeem the time to become all that God has created you to be, to intelligently look at how you spend your time and say, am I maximizing it to the best that it can be? This word rest, which is a very important word through all of scripture, rest is not simply the way that our culture defines rest. Well, rest is anything that doesn’t involve work. Rest is anything that helps me relax. Rest is anything that involves sitting on the couch and not doing anything that can be a form of rest. But that’s not what biblical rest is. Biblical rest is about restoring your soul. So what are those things in life that help to restore your soul? It could be that that rests for you. Is you and your spouse going on a walk at night spending time together? That could be your rest, rest for you.

Could be spending time in the word of God, spending time in prayer. Rest could be right now, coming to church, being a part of community rest could be getting plugged in to a community that’s pursuing God together. Uh, rest are those things that are restoring your soul. And so a a good rule of thumb is look at where you’re spending your, your time and ask yourself, is this restoring my soul? And it’s not to say that every waking hour of the day needs to be restful, but it is saying that you need to prioritize rest. Hey, here’s the question that this passage really made me ask myself. Does my life look like a sheep without a shepherd? Well, what if you did an audit of your time? So what if for the next week, you said, I’m going to write down every moment of my day.

And so I’m gonna mark, I spent 10 minutes doing this and I spent 15 minutes doing this, and I spent an hour and a half doing this. And then you were to take that piece of paper with all of your time spent and you were to hand it to someone else, and they were to audit. They were to look at how you spent your time in that week. What would they say? Would they say that you look like a sheep without a shepherd? Would they say, I, I, I can’t even, this stresses me out. Looking at your life, looking at where you’re spending your time. You’re all over the place. You’re left and right. You’re up, you’re down. But where do you find time to breathe?

Would they say that there’s an intentionality of how you’re living? Where they say, I can tell by looking at your life the most important thing to you is blank? Or could they not? And and then here’s my personal response. What I came up for myself was I said, I need to look carefully at my life. I need to make the best of my time. I need to intentionally seek God’s will through intelligent reflection. I need to slow down and rest at the end of your life. What will define who you are is where you spent your time. And that sliver at the end defines your relationships, defines the most important things to you. And it would be so easy to waste that time. And what Paul is telling us we need to do is we need to redeem it. Redeem it. Let’s pray Heaven. Father, I, I just know that we live in a world that is busier than it has ever been.

We live in a world that we feel each waking moment with so many different things. And so rarely do we slow down and stop and rest. And when we think of rest, we oftentimes have a misunderstanding of that word that rest is restoring our soul. Rest is about leaning into you. Rest is those areas of our life that reenergize us. God, I just pray that we cannot be like sheep that are charging off the edge of a cliff just doing what the culture around us does. And instead, we would be intentional. We’d be prayerful God, that we would make room in our life, create margin in our life so that we’re not stressed, that we’re not anxious, we’re not frantic, but in instead, we can slow down our pace, allow you as our shepherd to make us lie down and rest in you so that we can maximize the time that you’ve.