If you’ve been around Christian spheres for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard talk of the Sabbath, or Sabbath Rest. Usually it’s in reference to Sunday, and how it should be kept holy because it was on the seventh day that God rested after creating the world. But is Sabbath actually relevant to our lives today?
For the ancient Israelites, Sabbath was a command from God and a mandatory part of their weekly routine. They were to do absolutely no work at all– not even make food. It was a time for rest and worship, and it was a reminder that God provided for their needs; they did not provide for themselves out of their own productivity. The world kept turning and God kept providing even though they stopped working for a day. What a concept!
Today, Sabbath usually looks a little different. It’s ideally a 24-hour period (not necessarily on Sunday) where you focus on resting, connecting with other people, and worshiping God. It can even be a different day of the week every week if you work a job that doesn’t have a consistent schedule. It’s the heart behind it that really matters– a heart that desires to honor God by obeying His command to rest.
I started implementing a Sabbath rest in my own life a few months ago, right after I got married. My husband grew up in a family that consistently set aside Sundays to go to church and/or Bible study and then just rest and not do anything productive, so he was used to the practice. He could also tell that it would do me some good, as I tend to over-obsess about to-do lists and fill my weekends with tasks that could probably wait until next week. So we have made a habit of starting out Sunday at church and then just relaxing– not running errands or cleaning the apartment. It doesn’t mean that we don’t cook or do the dishes, but it does mean that we slow down and take more meaningful time to rest and connect with God and each other. And so far, God has always provided time to do the things I would have done on Sunday if I wasn’t resting.
I’ll be honest, the first few months of practicing Sabbath were hard– it takes quite a bit of planning to accomplish. I have to make sure I get to the grocery store on Saturday so I’m not tempted to go on Sunday, and I have to plan ahead to get any tasks done by Saturday night that need to be completed before the next week. And then there’s the part about how I have a hard time relaxing because I feel a constant urge to be productive. But, slowly, this practice of intentional rest has been teaching me to not feel guilty about not being productive. We are not created to just produce labor until we die– we are created to enjoy life, to rest, and then to do our work from that place of rest, relying on God for strength.
I’ve found that in the past few months I’ve started to look forward to Sundays because I know I’ll have downtime where I don’t need to try to accomplish anything. It’s such a relief for my heart that beats to get things done on the other six days of the week. After church, I use some of the time to write in my journal and read my Bible, and the rest I spend relaxing at home with my husband or with friends and family. And I always find myself more rested and ready to tackle the week ahead than I did before I practiced Sabbath. I hope and pray you will try it too. I promise you will see blessings in your life because of it.