I grew up in a family of “old people,” hard-working grandmothers, grandfathers, great-aunts and great-uncles, old people from the “old country.” I didn’t appreciate them as I should have. But, then, in my defense, I was just a little girl. The Lord hadn’t given me the wisdom yet to understand that hardships and challenges breed hard work. And the old people in my family worked hard—yes, they did! Whether for employers or family, they put their whole hearts and souls into their work.
But when Sunday came around, after the preaching and hymn singing at the German Methodist Church, the old people went home to rest. Sometimes rest meant a big, noontime dinner, roast beef with sides of steamed carrots, lumpy mashed potatoes and pan gravy, and then after dinner lazy hours of porch-sitting and visiting with neighbors. Sometimes, rest meant gathering around the picnic table in Great-Aunt Clara’s backyard, enjoying her homemade root beer, savoring the scoops of vanilla ice cream floating in the foam of frosty mugs. And, for the old people, rest always meant naps. Oh, how easily those old people napped, usually on porches, sometimes in hammocks or in big, overstuffed chairs. Sleep came hard and fast, a good rest, well-earned, God’s reward for a lifetime of work.
I wish for those old people days. Somewhere in the decades since the 1950s, I’ve lost the art of rest. Weekdays spill over into Sundays. Work goes on. I cram errands and chores into weekends leaving little time for porch sitting and lazy visits. On Sundays when I’m busy at work, God nudges me. He reminds me of His fourth commandment:
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:8–9 NLT)
I don’t always listen to God. I didn’t always listen to the old people either. When I disobeyed their instructions, they reminded me: “Listen to my words!”
I hear their voices now, echoing in my heart: “Listen to my words, Little One. Work hard for the Lord. Then remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Honor His commandment and rest.”
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