To be honest a post about Sabbath feels out of place in the springtime. There is new growth every day and new life appears almost instantly overnight in the trees and blooms surrounding us. The call to cease working and be still may seem out of place in the season of growth. Yet, God commands us to set apart a day in every season. We need the reminder to be still even more so in the midst of the hard work of springtime.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
I used to think that Sabbath required me to sit in church all day. However, in studying the history of Sabbath over the last few month’s I’ve noticed rhythms and rituals that can change our perspective on Sabbath means.
Sabbath means “cease from work”. From creation, God developed the rhythm of work and rest. For six days He created, breathed life, and sculpted creation and then on the 7th day he rested. It was a day like none before, a day to enjoy and savor the work of creation. A Sabbath heart begins by stopping our regular routines and declaring one day or 24 hour period to be set-apart and look different from the rest of the week.
Grace Note: Pull out your calendar and look at the week ahead. Is there a day or 1/2 day that you could mark as a Sabbath Celebration? Mark it down on the calendar, invite your family or friends to join you, and guard that day and your commitments fiercely.
In the Jewish tradition, people observed the sabbath from sundown Friday evening to Sunset Saturday. The Sabbath literally begins & ends with sleep. What a beautiful picture of complete surrender. When we are sleeping we are not in control. Rest reminds us that we can trust in God and that He is the one who guides our path.
One thing I learned in studying was that in Jewish tradition the weeks were orientated around the Sabbath. The first three days after the Sabbath were meant to reflect on those special days and then the following three days were preparation and anticipation to the Sabbath. I loved this picture of orientation my week and time around the Sabbath. In order to rest well on that day, we need to prepare the other days. If you choose to not go shopping on your Sabbath, you’ll need to find another day to get groceries and run errands. One habit I’ve adopted is to use Saturday’s as my household chore and “work day”.
Grace Note: What are 2-3 things you could do today in order to prepare for you upcoming Sabbath? Maybe it means running some errands over the lunch hour or picking up paper plates so you don’t have to do dishes. Do those things now and prayerfully prepare for your Sabbath Celebration?
Sabbath is a day set apart not for us, but for God. Sabbath without worship is a vacation 😉 True rest and contentment can only come from His presence. Worship might mean visiting a favorite coffee shop for an extended time of quiet reflection and journaling, meeting with a community of believers, or even putting on worship music and belting it out with your kiddos. Worship isn’t a prescription, it’s a way we connect with our Savoir and give him the glory and praise.
Grace Note: Think about the last time you felt intimately connected with God. What was going on? Where were you? Was there music? Where you alone or with other people. Are there a few elements of that experience that you could incorporate into your Sabbath this week? Write them down and put them into practice for your Sabbath rhythm.
Ceasing from work doesn’t mean Netflix and all day. For me, puttering in my flower garden or taking a long hike can be incredibly life giving. A few years ago I had someone recommend that on the Sabbath you cease doing the “work” you spend the majority of the time doing. If you are a landscape designer and spend your time digging in the dirt 5 days a week, Sabbath might mean curling up with a good book or watching a movie with loved ones. What is life-giving for one person may be training for the next.
Grace Note: Take a few minutes right now and write down 5 things that inspire and uplift you. Consider incorporating just one of these playful activities into your Sabbath.
One final note.
“Sabbath was made for the man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
Sabbath is a beautiful command, but it can easily become a day of rules and regulations that ultimately distract us. Questions of “Should I drive a car on the Sabbath?” or “Can I make bread on the Sabbath?” have been topics of debate over the years. Yet, when we focus only on what we should or shouldn’t do, we miss the heart of the Sabbath. Sabbath is going to look different for people in different seasons. I know that my Sabbath, as a single woman, looks vastly different from my friends with kiddos. But when we begin with the intention honoring God’s command and choosing one day to set apart for Him, the activities don’t matter as much as our hearts.
Friend, I close this little post with the encouragement to give yourself grace. Sabbath doesn’t have to look a certain way to honor the Lord. If you listen closely & obey to Him, you’ll encounter the true rest and peace that He can bring. And discovering the heart of God is what Sabbath is all about.