remember the sabbath

growing up, my family did a pretty good job of observing the sabbath together. it wasn't really talked about or dwelt on much, but sunday was a day of rest, worship, and family time. we'd go to church and come home to share a big afternoon meal in the dining room on fine china. even throughout high school, eating dinner together was a priority, but sunday dinners were extra special. (it was the only day we ate crescent rolls, twice-baked potatoes, and pie!) on saturday, we accomplished all of our chores, and the only work anyone did on sunday was to prepare and clean up after the meal together. we didn't go out with our friends and we didn't go shopping. we'd nap, read the paper, maybe watch some tv, and spend time together.

as i grew up, sunday did become a day to do homework, but i had to squeeze it in around church, family dinner, and youth group. in college i struggled with observing the sabbath. i didn't want to do any work on sunday, but after a long week of class, i wasn't willing to do my work on saturday instead. basically, saturday became my day of rest--sleeping in, hanging out with friends, going out--but it wasn't a sabbath, because the time honored me, not God. sunday i went to church, but after brunch with friends the entire rest of the day was spent researching, reading, and writing, writing, writing. instead of a sabbath, sunday became yet another day of work.

i've been thinking about sabbath-keeping in a way i haven't in a while. it's counter-cultural to abstain from work, busyness, and consumption. we lead hurried lives and there are many demands on our time, but inconvenience is not a legitimate reason to disregard God's command to us.

the sabbath is a time to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and that the world does not revolve around us and our efforts. the incredible truth about God's grace is that there is nothing we can do to earn or add to our salvation, yet instead of obediently taking a day to reflect on the holiness of God and his creative, redemptive power, we run around filling our time with errands, chores, activities, and distractions. to observe the sabbath is to humble ourselves before a holy God and acknowledge that God, not us, is the one in control. our work can wait a day. the laundry can sit. the grocery shopping can wait.

how can i expect to hear the voice of God if i never take time to be still?

scripture promises blessing to those who keep the sabbath. it exists not only to honor the God who rested from creation, but it also for us to experience rest, allowing God to renew and restore us. Jesus, who called himself Lord of the Sabbath, said that "the Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). it was made to bless us as we bless God and bless others.

"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13-14)
LORD, forgive me for doing as i please, not only on the sabbath, but every day. teach me not to go my own way, but to follow you more closely. thank you for your promise of joy found in obedience to your Word.

1 comment:

Bitterroot Mama said...

This is a fantastic post. I loved what you said about those Saturdays becoming about you, not God. I have been trying to keep the Sabbath with my family and have a hard time not turning it into a list of rules. Thanks for sharing!

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