I will always remember my first computer. It was 1984, and after months of research and visits to local stores, I bought a “Kaypro.” It was state of the art – a true portable weighing just 29 pounds. It featured a 9” screen (a text-only, green-on-black display) set in an aluminum case with two 51/4-inch double density, single-sided floppy drives. Best of all, it boasted an astounding 64 KB of RAM (today’s computers, by comparison, might offer a paltry 8 GB – about 8 million times greater). The keyboard snapped onto the face of the computer creating a tidy box that could be easily carried as long as you had been keeping up with your workouts at the gym.
The operating system was CPM (which ultimately lost out to MS-DOS for any computer not named Apple), and the computer came bundled with various software. The software wasn’t in the computer. It was on one or two of the floppies. You would insert the floppy into the drive when you wanted to use it. This was cutting-edge stuff.
What I remember most was the first time I used my new computer to write a sermon. Up until then I would hand-write my first draft, hand-write a second draft, and then type the third. Occasionally I might end up typing a fourth, but most of the time any changes at that point would simply be penciled in. Over-all, the process was pretty labor-intensive.
With my new computer I didn’t have to create new drafts. I could start with one and make all my changes right there. I could even shift whole paragraphs with just a few commands. This was amazing! I ended up with a better sermon, and saved hours in the process.
In his delightful book, A Geography of Time, social psychologist Robert Levine talks about this unexpected consequence:
It is one of the great ironies of modern times that, with all of our time-saving creations, people have less time to themselves than ever before… It has often been the very creations intended to save time that have been most responsible for increasing the workload. Recent research indicates that farm wives in the 1920’s who were without electricity, spend significantly less time at housework than did suburban women, with all their modern machinery, in the latter half of the century. One reason for this is that almost every technical advance seems to be accompanied by a rise in expectations.
Consider the impact of the internet. If you were a lawyer and received a letter from your client, the client understood that she or he might not hear back from you for a week or two. Today that same client sends an e-mail and generally expects a response by the end of the day. And speaking of the end of the day, whatever happened to going home and being done? Today, we go home but we are still accessible by both e-mail and cell-phone. For most of us, real “off-time” has become a thing of the past, and the pace of our lives has become more intense than ever.
The Hebrew the word “shabath” means “cease, desist, rest.” It is the root of the noun “Sabbath.” The call to honor the Sabbath goes all the way back to the second chapter of Genesis. It is one or the earliest and most important commands in all of Scripture. We all need time to rest; a time when we cease from work. With the pace of our lives growing ever more intense, finding a way to carve out that rest each day, each week, and each year has become more important than ever. It is essential if we are going to thrive. But here's the thing: it doesn’t just happen. Today, more than ever, we need to be intentional if rest is going to be an integral part of the very rhythm of our lives.
“And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it…” (Genesis 2:2-3)
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