In his book Sabbath, Dan Allender opens the book by stating there are several factors that keep us from observing the Sabbath.
The first reason he gives is pride (emphasis mine):
“The dark side of pride is that the work addict secretly believes he can outmaster the fates and find a way to achieve what others have failed to do. Somehow he will get his dream to remain on the top of the mountain and not slip from his grasp. Like any addiction, pride spins us deeper into the bondage of slavery, requiring other diversions to keep us from facing our plight.”
A second reason is distraction (though this quote is a sort of a subpoint):
“Often the defense against distractions is rigidity. We say that distractions are like Vanity Fair and can only be managed by a flintlike determination. We don’t shop on the Sabbath-ever. We don’t drive on the Sabbath-unless we are going to church. It is not okay to exchange money on the Sabbath, but polluting the earth with carbon-based fuels is just fine as long as the only driving is to church and back. We invent rules that seem orderly and sensible, if not righteous and moral, so that anyone who violates our code is somehow less than committed.“
A third reason is fear, specifically fear of delight, joy, and grace:
Nothing is more desperately needed in our day than the Sabbath. It is not because we are driven, stressed, and exhausted. We are all those things. And if we practiced the ancient art of Sabbath, we would be incalculably less harried. However, our awareness of the need doesn’t seem to be moving many, if any, to reconsider the Sabbath. As much as I concur with my Sabbath-writing colleagues who emphasize our need for rest, these writings fail to address what I believe to be the far more substantial issue.
We are driven because our work brings us power and pride that dulls our deeper desire for delight.
We are far more practiced and comfortable with work than play. We are far better at handling difficulties than joy. When faced with a problem, we can jump into it or avoid it; we can use our skills or resources to manage it. But what do we do with joy? We can only receive it and allow it to shimmer, settle, and then in due season, depart; leaving us alive and happy but desiring to hold on to what can’t be grasped or controlled.
Joy is lighter than sorrow and escapes our grasp with a fairylike, ephemeral adieu. Sorrow settles in like a 280-pound boar that has no intention of ever departing. One calls us to action and the other to grace. Which is easier: to work for your salvation with the self-earned power of self-righteousness or to receive what is not deserved or owed, but freely given and fully humbling?
Humanity is not made for Sabbath; Sabbath was made for all God’s creation: male, female; slave, free; Jew, Gentile; believer, unbeliever; beast of burden, and the ground itself. And Sabbath is not merely the cessation of work; it is turning from work to something utterly different from what we normally call rest.
excerpts taken from the book Sabbath: The Ancient Practices by Dan Allender