Glenn and I have been studying about Sabbath recently. Growing up I saw the Sabbath commandment in the Bible as a mandate to attend church regularly and to have absolutely zero fun on Sunday. It was a day we didn’t really do much and I had to take a nap. I certainly didn’t understand what it was for and didn’t plan to observe that as a adult. But then when I became an adult I hit a wall and I didn’t know why. Our society says we must go, go, go all the time and the Christian community is no better, we just do different things with our time. It’s a badge of honor to wear yourself out for the sake of ministry.
The past ten years have been tough for us. We’ve lost my mom, our daughter, had two miscarriages and a still birth, moved, changed jobs and dealt with other crisis’ in our family. It has left us feeling drained and emotionally unstable. What is the solution? We realized we needed to do something different so we started reading and examining ourselves and our life. One book that was very influential was “The emotionally health leader”. In it the author talks about his own ministry as a pastor where he too hit a wall and had to make some changes. He did many things in his life but one very important change was observing Sabbath. So, we decided we should learn more about Sabbath and try to make some changes to observe it better.
If you look at the Bible passages on Sabbath, there is of course the ten commandments where it is mandated that we keep the Sabbath. Then there are lots and lots of laws in the following books about how one should do that, very nit picky stuff. But in the new testament Jesus addresses the Sabbath again when he is caught doing things on the Sabbath that the church leaders disagreed with. “Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Sabbath was made for us to rest and not for legalism. It’s not about rules but about relationship. It’s about stopping to acknowledge God’s place in our lives and to rest in the knowledge HE is in control of everything. It’s a mindset shift more than a list of things to not do.
So, we decided to make some small changes to honor the Sabbath in our house. We decided that our Sabbath would be Saturday night at 6pm till Sunday at 6pm. We start with a family dinner and dessert and a time of sharing a Bible verse and discussion. Then the next morning we go to church. Come home, lunch, naps and rest that afternoon. No chores if possible. No social media. No checking email or work things. It’s our first attempt at this and it’s going pretty well. It’s a work in progress and we will slowly make steps and changes as time goes on and our situations change. Right now we have small kids which is less than restful most of the time, but it’s a process. Our Sabbath now will look very different than 10 years from now. What I find interesting is it has caused me to slow down in all areas of my life. I am less concerned with getting things done and stressing out about perfection or performance. We are contemplating how to life a life of rest, instead of busyness.
It was easier for my generation when we were kids. Retail stores were not open on Sunday. There were no regular Sports practices for kids, And your neighbors would question you if you mowed your grass on the Sunday…
We were going on vacation the next day.