Our culture prizes productivity. People bemoan how tired and busy they are, but they do not stop to evaluate how to live differently. Everyone is caught in this rat race and there is nothing they can do about it. The value of activity and busy-ness has infiltrated the Church. Although Christians may have different Biblical interpretations about Sabbath, most of us would agree that Sabbath is important. However, it is all too easy to give lip service. Yes, we know it is a good thing. However, we are under grace not under the Law. We don’t have to observe Sabbath.
When we approach Sabbath from a legalistic bent, I believe we miss the point. Jesus Christ taught that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27 NIV). The Sabbath was created to meet the needs of people to rest and worship. In order to thrive in life and in God’s calling as leaders, it is crucial to invest in our own well being by regularly setting aside time to honor God and enjoy His blessings.
Up until a few years ago, I did not really understand the importance of soul-care. Over time I have learned the power of Sabbath in renewing my soul. If you are still pondering the merits of Sabbath, here are some things to consider.
The Sabbath is a gift from God. During the week of creation in Genesis 1 and 2, God modeled the Sabbath for His children. We were made to work hard for six days, and then cease from work on the seventh day. The day we set aside to rejuvenate is not as important as the rejuvenation itself. Our Creator knows that our bodies need rest. It seems counter-intuitive, but the most productive people are not the ones who burn the candle at both ends, continually pushing themselves beyond their limits. Research shows that the most productive people nap when they are tired, get eight hours of restful sleep at night, and are in tune with the needs of their bodies. Sabbath is a gift, not a restriction. When we enter into a rhythm of rest we function according to God’s design.
The Sabbath emphasizes simplicity. We cannot do everything. In order to incorporate the gift of Sabbath in our lives, we must listen carefully to the Lord about how to arrange our time. There are certainly many good things in which we could be involved. However, we must only say “yes” to the things that are best. That means letting go of things that are good to build margin in our schedules. Life becomes simpler when we guard regular times for rest, relaxation, refreshing activities, and worship. Last year my husband issued a challenge to our congregation. He gave a blank monthly calendar to each family and instructed them to select one day each week on which no work, appointments, or other non-restful activities were scheduled. This exercise helped families to simplify their lives by deciding and focusing on what is really important.
The Sabbath reveals our trust in God. When we take the bold step of incorporating Sabbath in our lives, we affirm that God’s ways are best. We demonstrate that we really believe that He is in control. We can take time to rest and refresh with confidence that the Lord will give us the time and strength we need to accomplish His will. We stop making excuses. We cease our striving to “make things happen,” and learn to lean on Jesus. We discover the joy, peace, and beauty of His presence as we observe Sabbath as an act of worship.
Do yourself a favor…don’t wait until you encounter burnout or health issues that force you to slow down. Do what is necessary to include Sabbath as a life style, and reap the astounding benefits.