The Badge of Busyness

“Six days you shall work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest; you shall do no work.” – Exodus 20:9.

An exhausted businessman took a vacation in a faraway country to unwind. Every morning he walked from the resort to the beach. Each day he found a local man cleaning a fish in his boat. After witnessing this for several mornings, the businessman said,

“How often do you fish?”

“As often as I want to eat,” the fisherman said.  

“What do you do the rest of the day?”

“I take a siesta, do some things around the house, enjoy my family, play my guitar and visit friends.”

“Listen,” said the businessman, “if you fished all day, you could sell your fish, buy a bigger boat, hire helpers to sell your fish all over the world and make a boatload of money!”

The fisherman was confused. “Why would I do that?”

“So you can quit working, take vacations, relax and enjoy family and friends!”  

“Sir,” said the fisherman. “I’m doing that now and I only have to catch one fish a day to do it.”

Of all the commandments, keeping Sabbath is the most counter-intuitive. Especially now. We are increasingly uncomfortable with downtime and relaxation, reaching for our phone in unoccupied moments, wearing our busyness like a badge of honor. “I’m so busy” is both a cry of lament and a pretention to importance.

“Remember the Sabbath” is not only a command for rest; it is an invitation to know the joy of being unnecessary. No one is more important or necessary than God and even God took a day off.  So what’s my excuse?   


Lord, if not a full day of Sabbath rest, grant me the courage to take 20 minutes today for quiet, undistracted rest and allow you to be God.

ddauthormattlaney2014.pngAbout the Author
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.