Finding a way to rest and recover when it seems impossible
I met with a pastor friend of mine I’ve known for years. I shared my struggle to keep the Sabbath when he blurted out, “The Sabbath is a joke!”
He got my attention, and we spent the next chunk of time attempting to find a way for people (including my pastor friend) to enjoy God’s gift when current culture makes it difficult.
A Gift Wrapped-Up in a Command
First, it’s essential to acknowledge the command to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” is one of God’s Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8; Deuteronomy 5:12). None of us flinch when instructed not to murder, commit adultery, or steal, but when asked to take a day off, we do all we can to ignore or disobey God’s instruction.
But it’s the second observation of the Sabbath most of us miss: it’s a gift! Jesus reminded the Pharisees that, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
Focus on Two Things
The Sabbath is an invitation to REST and REMEMBER.
Exodus 20:9–10: You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.
We work because God worked, but we rest because God rested: “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:2).
Deuteronomy 5:15: “Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.”
God reminded Israel that, previously, they were not free. He brought them out from slavery, so they now had the freedom to rest. Likewise, we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6). We no longer have to prove our worth to merit God’s acceptance. Therefore, we have the freedom to say “no” to our performance culture and “yes” to God’s gift of the Sabbath.
Sounds Good — But Now What?
A Sabbath primer — ideas to get you started
Rest from what?
- Paid work
- Unpaid work — project “To Do” lists or weekly required shopping
- Excessive use of your phone
- Excessive use of email
- Excessive use of social media
- Excessive use of anything that consumes you (watching movies or playing video games)
- Excessive viewing or listening to the news
- Things that make you angry or stressed (likely some of the very items already mentioned)
- God’s blessings
- God’s promises
- God’s provision
- God’s goodness
- Answers to prayer
- Your salvation
That’s just a sampling to get you thinking. If you’re wondering how and when you do any of those things when you
- work multiple jobs
- work full-time and attend school
- have young children in the house
- or any other scenario that makes the Sabbath seemingly impossible,
See a Sabbath FAQs article here.
QUESTION (leave a comment below)
Have you ever attempted to keep the Sabbath? How did it go?