Growing Up Under Blue Light Laws
Exodus 34:21, 3:2-3
Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. Exodus 34:21a
I was so bored. I had played with my Barbies for what seemed like hours. Every comic book had been read, and three channels of television couldn’t satisfy my restless soul. The hands on the clock only flickered and I felt as if I was dying a slow painful death all before 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
It was Sunday and I dreaded Sunday afternoons growing up. No mall. No grocery store. No movies. Nothing. My tender youth was marked by living under the constraints of blue laws on Sundays. Blue laws legally required retail businesses to be closed on Sundays which meant I was trapped at home with nowhere to go every Sunday after church. I was forced to rest.
In Exodus 34: 21, God put similar restraints on the Israelites. He commanded them “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest.” No work. No plowing. No harvesting. No fire building. No work. None. None for you. None for you servants. None for the immigrants. None. Why? So we could be bored out of minds because we have “nothing to do” like me during my childhood. No. He commands it so we can “have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord.”
As a child, I didn’t understand what God meant by rest on the Sabbath. To me, forced quiet and lack of activity was a punishment, not a reward. But God knew I needed more than being busy all the time in order to grow up healthy in all aspects of my life. Rest is a key ingredient to physical, mental and spiritual healthy living.
First, it restores our bodies physically. Just 20 minutes of quiet rest lowers our heart rate and allows our body to reset from the stress of our daily work.
Next, it quiets our minds and allows us to process our thoughts and feelings. Our brains need downtime in order to sort through and process all the details that bombard it daily. More productivity and creativity come after our brains have had time to rest.
And last, rest allows us to hear God. Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” I can’t hear God’s voice if my life is filled to the brim with too much stuff. God’s voice is in the quiet whispers not the raging storms (I Kings 19:12). I have to make time to be still if I am going to fully experience God’s peace and presence in my life.
The grown up me longs for the good old days when someone made me rest. No one tells me to stop working anymore. My television has so many more channels than just three. The stores are always open and I always seem to need something. It’s time for me to place some “blue light laws” on my own life and make time for my body, mind and soul to rest.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.