So what does it mean to keep the Sabbath?
This is something that I did not know until even this past year, which is why I want to share it with you. For most of my life, I thought that the Sabbath meant going to church on Sunday, eating a big lunch, napping, watching football and then doing any last minute work for the week. In fact, I thought that was a pretty good definition, I was getting a lot of physical rest and I was getting some spiritual food as well. But this past year, the Lord has taught me that it is so much more.
It is not a day just to rest from work and activities, but a time to rest IN Him. In fact, how many Sabbath’s have I spent only thinking about God when I am at church? That is hardly resting in the Lord. Keeping the Sabbath holy does not mean being a Pharisee and locking yourself in a room with a Bible, not doing or even thinking about anything else. But I think we have to look at our time and our activities and really examine to see if there is a day set aside where we are truly resting in Him. A day set aside to spend with him!! The Sabbath is something the Lord created to remind us that we belong to Him and that we are sustained by Him alone. We need this! It is not just a good suggestion.
I think it looks different for each person and I do not think I have the perfect prescription, but I will use a few examples from my life in hopes to help you find some ways to rest in the Lord. First off, Sunday is not my Sabbath. There is no resting in the Lord on Sunday for me; working at a church has ruined that. So I set aside Fridays. I do not check my work email. I screen most of my calls. And I usually do not make any plans until late Friday afternoon and if I do they are just with a few select people.
So what do I do with my time? For starters, I sleep in. No alarm sleep is the best! Then, I get up and have breakfast. Once I am awake, I get out my Bible and journal and dive into time with the Lord. It usually ends up being for a couple of hours. And it is sweet. It takes me a while to clear my mind of all the things I need to do, people I need to call, and everything else my mind wonders about. I try to spend a good chunk of time reflecting on the Lord’s faithfulness that week and I thank and praise Him. Then I spend some time reading the word. I may read a Christian book as well, but time in the word essential. It is amazing how when I do not have anything planned or anything to get ready for, I can spend so much undistracted time with the Lord. I am not getting through my time with him to get to something else.
I usually go for a run or walk outside too. It is good for me to be out in creation when thinking on the Lord. It is also common for me to take a nap or crawl back in bed just because I can. I feel more rested when I am not distracted by the things of this world. I can be more aware of his presence and can converse with him throughout the entire day. I have really grown to LOVE this time with Him and can say that I long for it.
I am going to be honest; sometimes it is really hard to spend an extended time with the Lord. I think this is because we are so busy in life that it is hard to sit still that long. Also, we do not see our need for the Lord. We know in our head that we are sustained by his hand, but our hearts still think we can do it. Rather than grasping for this time with him, we often find ourselves dreading it, not knowing what to do. My encouragement is to fight this. Claim that you know that the nearness of God is our good and that better is one day in his courts than thousands elsewhere! Ask the Lord for help. Ask him to meet with you, to guide you and to lead you.
So, I write all this to say, please find a day that you can set aside to Sabbath, if you are not already. Spend some time repenting of your lack of Sabbath and for misusing it. Then pray about when you should Sabbath and fight for it! It may not be Sunday for you because you go to church, are in a gT class, volunteer somewhere, have tons of studying or work to do or have meetings. Maybe it is Saturday for you. The hard part is that to set aside a Sabbath, you are going to have cut something out (work, social stuff, trips, unnecessary serving, etc). I would encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you what you need to do to protect your Sabbath. It will always be hard, but remember that the things of this world are always enticing but none of them satisfy.