I had a morning not too long ago when I had planned to get up and run eight miles. (I know, I know, but I have my eye on a half marathon this fall.) However when the alarm went off, it was pouring rain. The radar looked like someone had dropped a bag of Skittles on it and I could hear more than a few rumbles of thunder.
So I went back to bed. I slept in, completely guilt-free. I didn’t worry about when I’d get that run in. I didn’t decide I should use the time to work on the stack of projects on my desk. I slept. I rested. It was glorious.
Let’s face it, we are a culture that does not value rest. However, few things are more important to our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being as rest. God knows this and so He gave us a gift, a Sabbath. I’ve been reading and studying about the Sabbath this year and here are some things I’m pondering and learning. (I think if I ever decide to write non-fiction, the Sabbath is where I’m starting.)
Sabbath is a sign of freedom. On of the first things God did for the nation of former slaves was to give them a day of rest. Under their Egyptian slavemasters, the freedom to rest was utterly unheard of. The day of rest was a weekly reminder that God had freed them from bondage.
Sabbath is a call to Eden. I may be off-base, but I believe Sabbath is not just about resting “from” our labors, but resting in order to do something greater, namely enjoy communion with God. It is a time to stop and just be in His presence, the way Adam and Eve used to do, and look forward to the ultimate restoration of that intimate communion.
Sabbath sets us apart. It identifies us uniquely as the people of Jehovah. Another word for set apart is holy.
Sabbath makes us more dependent on God’s intervention than on our own efforts to accomplish what we need to on those other days. It is a declaration of faith to give a day to God, almost like a tithe. It testifies that we are trusting Him to order the rest of the week.
Difficulty with Sabbath and rest may reflect a legalistic performance-based pursuit of God. I don’t have to do it all. I don’t even have to do most of it. The voices within and without who tell me otherwise are not the voice of God. We don’t “do” so God will love us or love us more. The love comes first, because He chooses to love us, before we ever do (or fail to do) anything.
Is Sunday really a Sabbath? Ironically, this day of freedom seems to come with the most burdens. Jesus constantly knocked heads with the religious establishment of His day over what a Sabbath should look like. I’m not sure we have it figured out, either.
I’m still studying, and probably will be for a while, but I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts and experiences with the Sabbath?
(Oh, I got my run in the next day, and I totally rocked it.)