A Genuine Sabbath Rest

Yesterday morning (Saturday) I first got up just before 8am. I felt really tired. My body felt achy. I don’t think I had the greatest sleep. So, not long after I got up I lay back down and slept for a couple more hours. I really needed it.

Sometimes we just need to stop. Our bodies, minds, and hearts need a break, a rest from the usual ways we spend our energy and time. That’s why as a family, we observe Sabbath.

We always start Friday evening. We have a special meal that includes dessert. We begin with prayers, blessings, and Scripture. We break bread and pass the cup.

Biblically, Sabbath is a 24 hour period of rest. Observed by Jews for millennia, Christians have had a mixed approach and a variety of views on Sabbath observance. I’m not interested in parsing these views here, other than to say that if God saw fit to embed in the very rhythm of creation a time for human beings to stop and rest that perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it to avoid being legalistic.

After my nap on Saturday, I watched some TV, did some reading, spent time with family, and did absolutely nothing. Well, I confess to doing a little laundry to ensure that I had done clean underwear!

At the end of the week, after we had enjoyed Sabbath supper, I felt exhausted. I went to bed relatively early and, as I mentioned already, had a nap the next day because I still felt really tired. Clearly, I needed rest.

On Saturday evening my wife and I had plans to spend time friends, and just before leaving to visit them I went to No Frills to get stuff for the kids’ supper. As I began driving, there was still a bit of a sunset, a beautiful stretch of pink and orange at the horizon line. And as I drove, I had a realization. I felt rested. I felt peaceful. I felt content. It was wonderful.

It made me realize that it took me nearly 24 hours to feel rested. A whole day of not working, of not being preoccupied with the responsibilities of ministry, of not having to give as much as receive in order to become recalibrated, was what I needed.

Put simply, God was right! In creating the Sabbath, God provides a gracious means for us to return to him and therefore to ourselves. It’s freeing to take the time simply to be. So much of life is what we do. So much so that we can lose who we are. God obviously knows better than us how to balance our lives.

When we first began observing Sabbath as a family, it never even occurred to me that I’d be able to manage to go 24 hours without working. If I could manage the Friday evening and Saturday morning, I should be grateful. I’m not always done my sermon before Saturday. And so there have been weeks when it’s hard to rest because of this. My weekend ends up feeling as tiring as the rest of the week.

But now I want more Sabbath. That feeling of rest was so life giving and freeing that I want more of it. For me this means doing my utmost during the week to use my time so that I don’t need to work on Saturdays. I need to get the work-rhythm more deeply into my system.

I don’t know if you resonate with any of this or not. But even if right now you’re not prepared for a 24 hour period of rest, how about taking an entire morning, afternoon, or evening and setting it aside for quiet, rest, prayer, Scripture, a pleasurable hobby or pastime, a extra long walk, a much needed nap, or a good book? Allow yourself space and time to step away from all of the doing for which you feel responsible. Instead, let God pour his grace and love into through taking a rest. Allow his gift of Sabbath to bless you.

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