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Pastoral Leader's Blog

Reflections on Sabbath

 It may be splitting hairs, but have you ever noticed that the first day of existence for mankind was a day off? For six days God created everything, with people being made on day six. Then, God rested the Bible tells us (see Genesis 1:31 – 2:3). I once heard someone make that point that while God rested from his work, mankind ought to work from their rest. I like the point it makes, that deficit living is as harmful as deficit spending. Eventually you won’t even have the ability to rest you’ll be so burned out. People often engage in unhealthy activities as a replacement for rest. Things that sedate or things that excite us provide a false break from busyness. Is it your habit to push life to the limit and then crash? Do you seek form of rest in unhealthy ways?

I know that when I notice myself saying, “I need a break” I’ve already crossed a line. It’s the unintentional confession of a Sabbath breaker, a person neglecting rhythm. I was once asked a question that I have never been able to purge from my mind. “Is time a blessing or a curse to you?” I often wish I had more time to accomplish all that my heart desires and then I realize my desires have gone astray. Busyness and accomplishment has become an idol. I’ve believed the lie that if I just got a little more done this life could satisfy my needs.

It’s a spiritual discipline to take breaks before you need them. I’m not condoning laziness here nor am I concerned with efficiency. I’m asking a question about lifestyle and values. While God is concerned for our need for physical rest and recreation, he gave us the forth commandment out of concern for our souls. Only he can satisfy us. Honoring the Sabbath is not about limiting our travel to one mile on Saturdays and other ridiculous legalisms (as the Pharisees taught). It’s about lifting our eyes from all that occupies us to keep God in his paramount place. It’s about making an offering of time to his honor. “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:9). Do you know what I think happened on that first “seventh day?” God and all his creatures, including his children, enjoyed one another.

Can you slow down this summer even if you don’t feel the need to do so? Can you clear some space in your life for God to do a new thing? Becoming Sabbath conscientious is a process of returning to God for refreshment. Honoring the Sabbath is not just about one day of the week any more than worship is. Both of these things need to be woven throughout all aspects of our lives. We need daily Sabbaths, weekly ones, and yearly ones. Summer is a natural time to downshift. Is it possible for you to be less busy in the next few months? After all, there’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings.