A couple of years ago, I started taking Capoeira classes to increase my physical fitness and give me a place of community outside the church. But I also learned something about the power of breathing.
Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that in addition to kicking and dodging techniques, involves a certain degree of acrobatics--the most simple including things like cartwheels and handstands [pictures to be edited in at a later date?!?!?].
I quickly learned that when doing something that is physically and even mentally difficult, the body has a natural response to stop breathing. I learned this when attempting my first cartwheels in 20 years, then again when learning how to balance myself on my hands. My instructor often reminded me (and occasionally still does), "breathe!"
Its interesting that I also find myself less likely to observe a Sabbath when engaged in ministry that is challenging and fruitful. I become engaged in the ministry and forget to breathe. As if holding my breath (working without rest) will allow me to focus entirely on the work at hand and not become distracted with something as mundane as breathing (taking Sabbath)
But what I found in Capoeira is that breathing helps. That may seem intuitive, but what I mean is that breathing helps beyond the obvious--keeping you alive, etc. Breathing increases my strength and my balance. I am capable of doing more when I am breathing properly.
I believe this is why God commanded rest. It's not because we deserve it, not even ultimately for our enjoyment--though it is enjoyable. Rather we are commanded to rest because God rested. It is as if God created by breathing out for six days, then on the seventh day breathed in. The breathing out is the "productive" part, but the breathing in allows for breathing out again. Literally, when God created humans--the scripture describes a lifeless corpse into which God breathed the breath of life; then God rested. He stopped exhaling in order to inhale.
So whatever you do--whatever you are doing; find time to breathe. Stop, rest..take a deep breath, and enjoy some Sabbath--not because you deserve it, but because God knows you need it. Breathing helps. It brings strength and balance to our lives.