My Forced Sabbath, Or Trees That Produce Fruit Year Round

Thanks for hanging in there with me. I’ve totally broken my blog schedule and shattered my readership. Today marks my first day of unemployment – the stress of that coupled with endlessly rewriting cover letters and finding typos in my resume had drained my soul and alas no new CCC. I’d try to sit down and put the finishing touches on a post I had previously written – maybe 10 minutes of work – and I didn’t have it in me to do it.

I think as Christians we are programmed to think that we have to produce something. And not just produce something – but produce something all the time. When I wasn’t posting I was feeling like a bum, and I began to worry I had nothing to contribute. I’m aware of just how silly that is considering I missed two days – but we think that way, don’t we?

We carefully emphasize that our works don’t save us, but then we bust our butts in an attempt to prove something spiritual.

Though there are verses about good trees produce fruit and that we should be producing work we get entirely too carried away and go on production binges. I know when I’m reminded that God loves me no matter if I produce nothing it stunning. If anything it doesn’t feel right – it’s as though it’s violation of some sort of Christian code.

I think our good old fashioned work ethic has seeped into our collective spiritual consciousness, telling us that we need to get out there and start cranking it out – whatever it is.

And I guess I fell for it, as I just produced a post about producing. But I think there’s something here worth investigating a little deeper. Must we always be a tree growing fruit like it’s peak season?

I just lost my job – it’s like life is handing me a Sabbath and forcing me to take it. Yet I’m finding any way I can out of it.

Do you do the same? What do you theorize is behind this need to pump out a product?

This entry was posted in Deconstructing Big Fancy Religious Systems, Takin' It Personal. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to My Forced Sabbath, Or Trees That Produce Fruit Year Round

  1. JamesBrett says:

    as we were created in God’s image, i’d suggest that when we create that which is good, we celebrate that image. God is a creator, and we become like him when we’re industrious and are able to create things which give him glory. [whether it be a blog post, good music, a beautiful garden, or a brand new baby….]

    but i think it’s also incredibly important that we rest after creating. sabbath is another way in which we’re able to live in God’s image. we rest from our work of creation, just as he did.

    i myself think of sabbath as a day on which i reflect on God’s work of creation through me throughout the past week (or month, etc — i don’t know that the point is necessarily one day each week, no more, no less). it’s not possible to be like God without taking time off to appreciate our work. but it’s also not possible to be like God if we’re lazy and don’t create in the first place. a sabbath is only a sabbath if we’ve worked hard, and if we’ve produced something which is good.

    all of that said, my guess is that you’ve been working pretty hard, charlie — and certainly should enjoy (as best you can) this “forced sabbath.” i’d encourage you to reflect on the good you’ve done as a result of the Holy Spirit in you, while you await your next opportunity to create. [i say this knowing full well you don’t require a paying job to create what is good and what honors God.]

  2. I think this “forced sabbath” idea is particularly hard on men-especially men who have a new child and just bought a house. In reality, it is hard on all of us. I was “bred” with the breadwinner mentality and when I was without a job I felt sort of up in the air. I was being paid since it was sort of a “forced” thing, but that still didn’t take away the idea that I ought to be doing something. I rode a lot that summer. Over 3600 miles. But while I was riding i was thinking, and praying, and crying, and feeling useless. i wish I new what to say. However, I can say that I don’t believe we always need to be creating or re-creating. sometimes we just need to take that sabbath. Perhaps Brett is right…you have been working hard-maybe too hard. Rest. Regroup. And know your online friends are praying and pulling for you.

    • thanks Bill. I’d easily agree that this work hard thing is much more of a male phenomenon – we definitely get out identity all wrapped up in that stuff. I know I have a family member who lost their job and then experienced a deep 2 year depression.

  3. David says:

    Well, let’s sabbath together!

    Yesterday I was told that it will be 4-6 weeks before I can return to work full time. I am generally a busy guy, working 45 hours a week, one band night, 2 gym nights, a date night and dinner at the table with my family every night. Not to mention I pump out 4 blogs a week and grab a few minutes on the guitar… I am happiest when I am creative…

    I don’t think that Christianity requires us to be busy or productive – there is like no formula.

    So now I am without the energy to finish a blog in a day, and I am finding that challenging. When I have been unemployed, I always use that time to get more education and work on things like my portfolio, a springboard to a better job. In fact every unemployment stint brought a better paying job.

    So a couple of tips, do your job search early in the morning. Save copies of ads you apply for as documents and reapply for them in 4 weeks. Get some exercise. Find something creative to do, then work the job thing after lunch. You find sanity in not sitting in front of the PC waiting for an email!

    Good luck!

    • Its so draining sitting at a computer all day – so good advice to break it up. I too am trying to use this as an opportunity to move on up, though it’s a difficult time to move on up.

      David – enjoy as much as possible your own forced time off. Rest, even though you really can’t.

  4. Glad to hear from you Charlie! I’ve been checking in every day.
    As far as the writing is concerned, I think you and I are similar. I want to have something to post as regularly as possible, and if I have nothing to say, I start to feel pressured about it. Oh no! I have to think of something! But when I began blogging, (1 month ago tomorrow….I’m a blog baby), my purpose was to have a way to show people that I know ALL aspects of my life and self…especially including my faith. I’m kind of hoping that people who wouldn’t necessarily read a blog about following Christ WILL read a blog that includes following Christ. So, I have to daily hand it over to God, and accept that I’ll write when He says I’ll write. I keep reading the Bible, keep praying, keep doing anything else that amounts to (trying) to put Him first. Many days I have something to write, but not always.
    I also LOVE writing. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. So the writing itself is somewhat addictive.
    You’re new circumstances may give you a whole lot to write about..this is a journey that many people must take these days, and I’ll bet a lot of them would benefit from reading about how you’re handling it. You could even start a new category.

    • haha a new category of blogs about being a bum! I am with you on feeling pressured to churn out something, and it’s good for me to remember if its dry then don’t try to force something out. That’s how you get a hernia.

  5. Grammatical correction. “YOUR” new circumstances. Gotta proofread more. :0)

  6. StephenT says:

    Our son-of-adam nature wants little to do with accepting grace free and clear. I know that’s probably a little off topic, but for me it relates. We try to be okay, (and succeed somewhat), with the fact that the new covenant in His blood changes the way the game ends, where He gets all the credit. What we cannot stomach is the fact that He didn’t just change the way the game ends, He changed the rules of the game:

    “For the sake of argument let us suppose that you could fulfill
    the Law in the spirit of the first commandment of God: ‘Thou
    shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all they heart.’ It would do
    you no good. A person simply is not justified by works of the
    Law.” (Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians)

    … the rules have changed. “By works of the law shall no one be justified”. (gal 2:16).

    • I don’t think that’s off topic – think it has everything to do with our need to produce. We believe grace is free and clear and yet we freak out worrying about our salvation – doing 6 alter calls just for spiritual insurance. I remember one night 5 years ago I had it in my head I was going to prove my salvation by doing the dishes and I realized just how messed up in the head I really was.

  7. I see people who are forced off from work because of injuries they suffer, and some of them do not do very well. They simply do not know what do with themselves. They drive their wives crazy. They just can’t be still. When we sabbath, whether forced or not, we need to make sure we rest in it, and not fill our need for business with anxiety.

  8. Darius says:

    Well, we were created to work (even before the Fall, the Bible says man had a job to do). So part of it is inherent in who we are as created beings in the image of God. Part of it also stems from our need to “earn” grace and God’s favor as well as “make up” for the guilt we have for our sin.

    Ultimately, Jesus is supposed to serve as our Sabbath rest (Heb. 4). Our fruit will never quite measure up, our motives will never be quite pure enough, our hearts will never fully and completely love God. But we can rest in the fact that Christ was tested and never found wanting. He obeyed the Father perfectly and all those who trust in Him can be assured that the Father no longer sees our filthy rags of supposedly good deeds but only the work of Christ on the cross.

    • you nailed it – trying to earn grace and make up for our shortcomings. That drives so many Christians, with me in there as well. It’s ironic since those are huge Christian concepts – it’s almost as if Jesus understood how humans think!

  9. Jason says:

    I’m so sorry you lost your job. I will be praying for you.

    I lost my job as well a few weeks ago and I’ve applied all over the place….not a single response. To be honest, it’s to the point I feel dead inside now. I’d like to pour encouragement on you and tell you that it’s going to be great but honestly right now this really freakin’ sucks.

    But I’ll pray for you. I’ll keep reading…if you find an answer to this, let us know so I can try it. 🙂

    • So far I’ve yet to hear anything except two “sorry, we regret to inform you….” it’s killer man. I think the answer is get out there and start smoozing it up with everyone you know – its who you know not what….

  10. Carla says:

    Charlie, you just described me pretty well. I feel the need to DO something to be worth something. It has been hard on me after I lost my job and there are times I’ve felt worthless and lazy because I was generating too much of my self worth on things I had done. I force myself to spend certain amounts of time in the Word, applying for jobs, working out,blogging, etc. And when I don’t meet the demands of my to-do list I feel bad. My husband constantly reminds me that God is not in the conditional love business and if I want to please the Lord I should ask Him what He wants me to do and obey, instead of trying to fulfill what I think is best. In reality all the things I do make me feel better and dwell less on my joblessness but when I view them as requirements to “be good enough” they no longer serve their purpose. It’s difficult to be led by the Spirit and gain revelation in the Word when I view it as a check on my to-do list. I will say, even as I struggle with unemployment as a woman, that I think it is harder on men because of their role as leaders of the family- but Christ is faithful and I believe He will bless you.

    You asked about fruit, I think our view of fruit is different from what Christ was talking about. In this time the fruit you display could be your continued faith in God and your devotion to Him, the way you love your wife and child, dealing with struggles in a Christ-like way- the fruit is produced in your heart, not necessarily by your hands.

    Here’s a verse I like to read when I’m feeling not quite like a success, as well as in the times when I’m getting a big head- it reminds me of what God really cares about. “6Moreover, [no new requirements were made] by those who were reputed to be something–though what was their individual position and whether they really were of importance or not makes no difference to me; God is not impressed with the positions that men hold and He is not partial and recognizes no external distinctions–those [I say] who were of repute imposed no new requirements upon me” Galations 2:6 Amplified

    • thanks Carla. I think you imparted incredible wisdom by saying fruit isn’t just produced by the hands – but in this case it may be produced in my heart. I think we do all of this producing, like you said, because of some crazy thing going on in ourselves and not because of some requirement of God.

      (and be careful with that verse – it would upset just about every Christian author in universe!)

  11. Larry Hughes says:

    Yep out of work really is a downer. I could get really political and point fingers at Washington but it will only vent anger.
    It is best to keep busy and spend the former work time looking for jobs as if it was an actual job and keep up with your after work activities to keep your sanity.

    The economy is really bad right now and one must certainly have a fear factor right up there with going down in a plane crash.

    I work for a company that prompted me out of retirement in 2006 to help strengthen their failing income in properties owned. Well I did that but over the last year that new income has been dissapearing at the home office level as the bills aren’t getting paid and the vendors are suing for their money. I know what their expenses are and some one there is living it up sinfully on company money. As a matter of fact, my personal pay checks are bouncing all over the place now.

    Well I am going to voluntarily join the unemployed ranks because I can’t continue to work in a place where my ethics are compromised and their ethics are down the tubes.
    The saddest part of this is I will miss the people that I come in contact with daily and share God’s word but yet they have my number and I will always only be a call away.

    The money and hours were great but I have principles. Am I scared? You bet. Am I worried? Of course. I got used to all that extra income but I have faith in God that things will work out for the better. Just have to tighten my belt up a whole bunch of notches and cut expeses drastically. Does it mean bankruptcy? That is a possibility. The wife has a lot of hospital bills. If the medical profession is not accomodating to my new budget proposals it will be a big posibility.

    What are my future job potential opprotunities? At my age. Who Knows. I felt the same way in 2006 when I took an early retirement. However, I think I could get part time work in the retail industry at Walmart which would be fine to me.

    What I am getting at here? Just weigh all your options and look at the big picture. Analize( spell check) your strengths and background then research where your skills might be able to adapt into a new company or profession. But no matter what you do, stay on a work schedule and continue to treat you job search like it was an actual job.

    I will continue to pray for you.

    • wow Larry crazy story. I can only imagine how angering it is find someone is living it up on the company dollar. Sounds good to get out of there – of course it sounds good in theory in practice it’s SOOO difficult.

      thanks for the advice, I try to focus on job searching but man is it draining!

  12. theoldadam says:

    Sorry about the job, Charlie. It’s rough out there. My wife had a great job (for twenty years) and lost it 6 months ago. And I make $10 an hour in a grocery store.
    My very forst job at 16 years old was in a grocery store and I made more $ then, than I do now (adjusted for inflation).

    I’m 54 years old and I am realizing that I haven’t come very far in my life.

    But, “if it is for this life only that we hope, we are the most to be pitied.” (St. Paul)

  13. It’s familiarized comfort.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s