Sabbath is a strange thing, and I’m not sure why.
The 10 commandments are something we as Christians generally think are really important. But somehow we think we can ignore Exodus 20:8-10 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.”
Somehow we as a society have equated being overworked and having no boundaries as being successful and dedicated. We are slowing killing ourselves with our work ethic.
And to make matters even worse, we think those that have healthy boundaries are doing something wrong. The ministry I work with, After Hours, makes it mandatory that all our volunteers and employees take one weekend a month off and one month a year – so we are sure that we are getting the rest and rejuvenation that we need. When the director of our program took her first month of sabbatical off it was amazing the number of people that privately asked us if she was being disciplined or was having trouble and that was why she was stepping away from ministry for a month.
How did we get to this place where rest is seen as weakness? How is it that we feel if we take time away we are signifying LESS of a commitment to something than if we were to come back at it rested and with new perspective?
Jesus often lead by example in this area – when ministry was really heating up, just when the disciples were seeing results, Christ would say, stop – rest. Mark 6:30-31: “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not eve have a chance to eat, he said to them, come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
How counter-intuitive! NOW is the time to keep pressing on. The people were hungry for the message. Whatever they were doing was working! They were in a rhythm! But Jesus called for rest knowing that our worth is not in what we do, but in who we are – and who we are cannot be strengthened when we never stop to feed, reflect and nourish our souls.
And I love the picture of Luke 23 of the women who had come to the tomb to wrap Christ’s body and prepare it for burial. Christ, their leader, their beloved had just DIED. Don’t you think they would drop everything to see that he was properly taken care of and buried? Verses 55-56 say: “The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”
Not even the burial of our Lord and Savior was enough of a reason to get these women to break the Sabbath commandment. Surely that impatient client isn’t one either.
Kurt Fredrickson says: “[A Sabbath] lifestyle is confession and declaration that we are not necessary. It is hard to admit, but we are dispensable. We are worthwhile and we do good work. We are loved and cherished, but we are not necessary. The work will go on without me. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. We need a more sobered attitude about our work and ourselves. Too much of what we do is wrapped up in us proving to ourselves, and others and God how valuable and necessary we are. Sabbath living declares my worth is not in what I do.”
So what about you? What are the things that keep you from investing in Sabbath? What do you fear you’ll miss out on or lose if you take the time to break away?