Hopefully, you have read my last two posts and listened to the recent podcast so you understand the problem of busyness and how silence is the gatekeeper to finding rest. Now, it’s time to talk about Sabbath. I started digging into the idea of Sabbath earlier this year when I realized I knew it was a commandment, but it had no real part in my life. I do my best to follow all the other commandments, but on Sabbath, I had missed the mark. Or more accurately, I hadn’t even considered it as a mark I should hit. I heard a few podcasts talking about it and even secular outlets were talking about the value of rest.
I found out that first we needed to define what Sabbath is for our family. You see, my wife and I were on different pages as to what Sabbath is. I think it is quite common that people have different backgrounds and both positive and negative experiences with Sabbath. In To Hell With the Hustle, Jefferson Bethke calls it a day of resistance against the production-driven world we live in. He says, “it’s about the deep sense of joy and filling and celebration. It’s set apart and different. It is the day of rest, but not in the sense of “let’s sit there and eat potato chips all day and do nothing.”” He describes Sabbath as a day of delight like Christmas 52 times a year.
Another great teaching on Sabbath comes from Jon Tyson’s talk titled, Rest Must Be Stronger Than Exhaustion. He lays out two key points on Sabbath: resting and feasting. I realized I needed to move away from resting by watching TV and instead rest by ignoring the clock, leaving my phone on the kitchen counter, walking in the neighborhood, or taking a nap.
On feasting, Jon Tyson really nails it. He says, “We must arrange our lives so that sin no longer looks good to us.” As I grew up, it felt like much of Christianity was about what you could not do (no sex, no alcohol, no rock’n roll). I felt like the benefits of following Christ came once we had died and we were all raised to life again. But that is not what the Bible says. We are meant to experience a glimpse of what God has for us while we are still alive. We are meant to use the Sabbath to celebrate what He has created on the other six days of the week. Sabbath is more than worshiping God and resting; we should also celebrate the work God has done and feast on the bounty of His creation.
These great messages have inspired my family to start practicing the Sabbath. I say practice because I have found that it takes a lot of repetition. It is not perfect and magical the first time, but I can see it’s working. Practically speaking, we have kept the Sabbath days free of rules or schedule. For example, we don’t have a list of what we can and cannot do. We normally start with dinner at night. We have found that eating at our dining room table instead of in the kitchen helps set the meal apart (even when the meal is just takeout). We sleep in as long as our two kids let us. We head to the community workout at our neighborhood gym. Instead of rushing home to get lunch and get our day started, we talk with our friends and let our boys play around. We have lunch and then we might go for a hike, take a nap, or watch a movie depending on how we are feeling. We have found that one of the most freeing things is not having a schedule. We move between activities without the clock looming over us.
One of the things many people suggest is to prepare before the Sabbath so that cleaning the house or grocery shopping don’t spoil your day. With that said, I do enjoy grocery shopping when it’s for the purpose of making a special meal for family and friends, so that could be part of Sabbath for me if I do it with a restful and joyful heart. This is where Jesus’ teaching comes in. He called out the religious of His time because they had made so many rules around the Sabbath that they missed the point. It is meant to be full of rest and celebration so don’t make the mistake of too many rules. One of the simplest takes on it is this -- six day a week we produce things, and one day a week we enjoy the things God has provided.
I know I have a long way to go to learn how to Sabbath well, but I am thankful that I have started the journey. Do you want to join in too?
Here are a few of the other resources I have found helpful:
Fight Hurry, End Hustle Podcast: Episode 5. Sabbath Podcast by Jefferson Bethke and John Mark Comer
Rest Must Be Stronger Than Exhaustion Serman by Jon Tyson
Take the Day Off Sermon by Robert Morris
To Hell With the Hustle, by Jefferson Bethke
Fire Your Boss: Discover Work You Love Without Quitting Your Job (Chapter 13 on Play) by Aaron McHugh
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
Practice the rule by Matt Chandler