Monday, April 30, 2012
I have gone back and forth, over the years, on the issue of keeping a "Sabbath." I'm referring to the commandment (one of the 10, incidentally) that says to keep the seventh day of the week holy, or literally "set apart" for the Lord. The Bible also clarifies that God's people are to do no work on the Sabbath, that it is to be a day of rest.
What it means to keep a Sabbath day has been interpreted in a zillion different ways. I know some families who take this very literally. They not only try to avoid any work on Sunday, but they also try to stay away from activities that require others to work, such as going out to a restaurant. Others I've talked to feel that they take that rest time spread out over the week, like chunks of sabbath time, but not all at once on a set day. I'd say most of my Christian friends and family members, however, don't actually observe what they would identify as a Sabbath rest at all.
I've gone back and forth, like I said, over the years. I do try to take the Bible literally and obey it's commands as much as possible. And I do believe God absolutely knows what is best for us. If He has commanded that we should work for six days and then keep the seventh as a day of rest in a given week, who am I to change that around?
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
For me, I just question why on earth I resist His specified weekly structure.
Wait, I know why.
Because my pride interferes with my obedience.
Because I think I know what's best for me.
Because I think getting stuff done will better serve my family and me so I stay in a constant state of asking myself, "What needs to be done next?"
And this past Friday, I saw a busy weekend looming. Saturday was going to be filled with commitments all strung together one after the next. After the kids went to bed, I couldn't do anything else. I declared out loud, "I need a Sabbath." I needed it all to stop.
Problem was that my sink was full of dishes. My laundry basket was full of clean, unfolded clothes. My fridge was end-of-the-week empty. Normally, every other week, there is no way I'd walk away from all that to rest for a full day. No way. But Saturday night, I knew I had no choice. It was as if I had already run a marathon without a drop of water. Not one more thing could be done until I drank deep some Sabbath rest.
Sunday, we went to church. We worshipped, we learned. We went home.
I pushed down my impulse to work.
We made sandwiches at home and then gathered some things into the car.
I pushed down my anxiety from not working. Over and over, actually.
I brought two magazines that had been gathering dust on my desk. I actually read them while my husband did a few light jobs for my parents. Then we got some exercise with the kids. It was great. It felt good.
We were all so happy.
I don't know if it was related, but my kids played so amazingly well together all day. Playing, laughing, and being silly. I don't recall any bickering or whining at all. Did they perhaps need a sabbath too? (Lord, how have I robbed them of rest through my own disobedience!?)
When we returned home, all the piles loomed. And then I remembered that according to the Jewish calendar, the end of the day is considered sundown. Their tradition was that the new day starts in the evening, and carries until the next sundown. It made so much sense to me, in terms of taking a Sabbath, for me, for my life. I had stopped working Saturday night (out of sheer exhaustion, this week anyway), took all of Sunday to rest, and then was energized and refreshed to get to work Sunday night, preparing for the week. It was like God gave me a green light and a full heart to dive back in to the holy jobs He's given me. And I had the means to do them well, with a happy heart and a full tank.
So often, I approach my jobs, particularly in my home, with a heavy heart, as if they burden me. I wonder if it's because I've neglected God's order for my week and disobeyed His command to rest. Perhaps this running-on-empty feeling is more of a choice than I've realized.
And Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."
I take time daily to spend with Him, to fill up spiritually. But is that enough? Are my body and mind receiving enough quiet and refreshment in those moments to carry me through seven whole days? I don't think so. Something has been missing. And I suspect it's a Sabbath.
What about you? What are your thoughts on this?