This is not a very insightful post. No sir-ee. This topic has been made plain and clear in the Scripture right there in front of me, but sometimes I am prone to miss the obvious. Like the time I accidentally booked a non-changeable, non-refundable airline ticket to Germany. Yep, it was right there in plain English. It had to have been because otherwise my friends would all be running around town proclaiming how they too have been taking exotic accidental vacations. And…they’re not. Nope, just me. But that “accidental” trip is actually what started me thinking on the importance of rest. Thank God he is even in our accidents. 🙂 But that’s a post for another time. For now, let’s look at how God created us to rest.
We’ve all heard it said:
“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27 NASB)
And it’s often quoted in support of not keeping the Sabbath. “See, I don’t have to keep the Sabbath because it was made for me (to do with what I wish); not the other way around.” And I get it. We don’t want to be legalistic and that’s a good thing. But we do want to be wise. And God did create the seventh day for rest. He created the Sabbath for man. For us. Maybe He had a really good reason and we are missing out by not keeping the Sabbath.
Think about it. The Creator of the universe, our Maker and Father, who knows us best and loves us most says, “Sabbath was made for [you.]” Why do you suppose that is? Maybe because He knew we would be inclined to work too much. To put too much stock in our own ability and not enough in his sufficiency. Maybe because he knew we would need to be refreshed. After all, if we are working 6 days a week, there’s a good chance we need a rest.
In Exodus 23:12, when God tells his people to rest on the seventh day, he goes on to say why: “…so that [you all] may be refreshed.” Noah Webster defines refreshed as: invigorated, revived, cheered. And since I am really trying to come to grips with the idea of rest this new year, I ask myself, “Do I wake up Monday mornings revived, invigorated, and cheered; or do I wake up tired, weary, and a little bit grumpy?” What about you? If you aren’t sure, just ask your kids. If they are like mine, they will be all too delighted to give you an honest answer. 🙂
So, last week I made the decision to implement a Sabbath rest. I told my kids we were going to clean up Saturday so we could relax better on Sunday. I think they were excited at the thought of mom sitting down for more than five seconds, so they didn’t mind. 🙂 I know life won’t always turn out so perfectly as to have the house all cleaned up in time for Sunday but it’s a good goal and I must say, it was super nice come Sunday!
So, what does one do on the Sabbath? Well, I suppose for some, it could look like everyone sitting around solemnly twiddling their thumbs all day, but that sounds pretty miserable. And I’m pretty sure God’s gift of rest to us is not to make us miserable. I don’t know about you, but misery doesn’t exactly refresh me. Here is a little insight from Tim Keller on the subject.
“This rhythm of work and rest is not only for believers; it is for everyone, as part of our created nature. Overwork or underwork violates that nature and leads to breakdown. To rest is actually a way to enjoy and honor the goodness of God’s creation and our own. To violate the rhythm of work and rest (in either direction) leads to chaos in our life and in the world around us. Sabbath is therefore a celebration of our design.”
Isn’t that great? We can have a celebration every Sunday! I love having things to celebrate. I sometimes look for reasons to celebrate and if I can’t find any, I make one up. But here we have a real reason to celebrate every single week! God is so good, isn’t he?
I have chosen to focus my sabbath time on those activities that are truly refreshing and life-giving for me. There are four things I try to include: reflection, reading, rejuvenation, and refocus.
- I aim to reflect on the past week and on all God has done in case I didn’t notice or forgot to thank him in the chaos of my life. Given my personality, I can tend to focus on the difficult things in life and having a day of rest and reflection helps me to see the good in the midst of the difficult.
- I also really enjoy reading a good book (which I rarely get to during the week, so it’s a real treat).
- I might review and contemplate notes from a parenting class, play games with my kiddos, or work on a fun sewing project. I find these types of things rejuvenating.
- I also want to take this time to refocus and remind myself of the most important things in life, making sure I don’t neglect those things in the midst of my busy week. And I ask God what he would have me include in my schedule in the coming week.
What about you? What would really be rejuvenating for you this weekend that would cause you to wake up with renewed energy and cheer Monday morning? I encourage you to try it out. You never know. It just might change your life. 🙂