WHAT WORKS FOR ME IN…Dealing with Stress

John McLarty, Pastor, North Hill/WindWorks Company, WA Seventh-day Adventist Church District (WA Conf)

“When I’m tied in knots by sustained stress, I have repeatedly found sweet relief in exercise. Swimming helps some. Bicycle riding for an hour helps a lot. Running for an hour is a complete (though temporary) cure.

“Another great stress reliever is the Sabbath. Here is an approach I have found highly effective in communicating the Sabbath to secular people and Adventist boomers who don’t see the value of Sabbath rules, and experiencing it in my own life: “Sabbath is like a park in time. Parks must have energetically defended borders or they would be completely filled with the necessary “stuff” of ordinary civic and commercial life–malls, gas stations, landfills, restaurants, etc. We vigorously defend park space from the encroachment of these necessary things to make space for something better–something that is difficult to define but easy to experience. Parks are the one area of life where anti-authoritarian Americans embrace the value of firm boundaries and enforced rules. “Sabbath is like a park in time. It must have firm boundaries or the special time will be filled with all the demands of ordinary life–earning money or grades, fixing the car or cleaning the garage. We exclude these ordinary things from Sabbath hours to make room for something truly special (a secular synonym for holy). “With a park, the easiest things to speak of with great specificity are negative: No malls, no McDonalds, no factories, no recycling plants. The positive values of a park–open space, picnic tables, swing sets, duck ponds, a zoo–are open to all kinds of variation and creativity. “So with the Sabbath. The easiest things to say with great specificity are negative: Don’t work. Don’t go to school. Don’t compete. Refrain from striving to make your place in the world. The positive experience is less definite but infinitely richer–rest in the accomplishments of God. Delight in the presence and grace of God. Enjoy special time with God and family and church. “As with our favorite park so with the Sabbath. The best way to communicate its value to our friends is not to talk about it but to invite them to come experience it with us. “Especially for secular people, a single experience of sharing in a Friday evening meal, a sweet worship experience or a relaxed Sabbath afternoon can open a whole new world of possibility for richer living that they never even imagined was possible.”

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