"On the seventh day having finished his task, God rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation." Genesis 2:2&3
Upon arrival back in Canada I was struck with how often the phrase “I am so busy” was uttered by people I conversed with. It bothered me so much I decided to eliminate the word busy as much as possible from my vocabulary because the word seemed to evoke an inevitable social distancing from others. When busyness attempts to squeeze out my calling to reach Muslims, I pull back immediately from some things.
Our western culture is obsessed with being busy. It is an acceptable and, at times, even virtuous way of life. It has been amazing to me that in the first two years when some of my Muslim friends are settling in they complain how busy everyone is. It bothers them to see our busyness. Many of them come from cultures where neighbors or family drop in at any time day or night. Nothing takes precedence over showing hospitality. But it does not take long until they, too, catch the fever of busyness and when they do they frequently become even busier than a person born and raised in the west. Soon the words “I am so busy” are coming from their mouths! Fortunate is the woman whose husband will share the domestic responsibilities. For some men that continues to be a shameful thing. If the woman goes to school or works she usually is left with all the household work, plus the cooking for any community events which happen often.
As I have witnessed this pattern of some of them adopting our busy cultural lifestyle it has made me increasingly appreciative of the valuable principle of Sabbath rest which God introduced to us. “Have you ever heard of the word Sabbath?” I ask my Muslim friends. It is a subject addressed frequently with both my Muslim friends and believers from Muslim background. They find it quite interesting and informative and leads into fruitful discussions. God knows that if we are left to ourselves we will become addicted to either excessive working, studying, or busy activity plus easily succumb to the seductive and consuming lure for material possessions. I talk about slavery to money and that we cannot serve both God and money. The idea of a practical way of curbing our work addiction and materialistic desires actually comes from God. They make us busy. The reason I have found it crucial to address the topic and principle of Sabbath rest early in my relationships is because I have seen how numerous relationships with my Muslim friends have completely and quickly shut down when life becomes busy. There have been great opportunities to share spiritually when suddenly our visits come to a halt which is not usually because of resistance but rather busyness. Times of fellowship with believers also is greatly affected. Their time has become crowded. I have come to realize how vital it is to watch what I say and infer about being busy and to model an uncrowded lifestyle. Easier said than done!