Practicing the Sabbath

Exodus 20: 8-11 (NIV)
“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…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day…”

Sabbath means to stop, rest, take a break or, as I say to chill out.  The
Sabbath is a day set aside to pause and step out of the demands and pressures
in our lives for a moment, only to find rest from our hectic lifestyles.  It is a day for spending time in prayer and worship, a time for fellowship, a time for our families and friends, time for ourselves, and above all, time for God.

Growing up, I had a different view on the Sabbath.  Like most of us, the Sabbath involved going to church, coming home to a large dinner, perhaps with your grandparents along with aunts, uncles and cousins.  Since I was raised in the military and the daughter of a father who inherited the term “itchy feet”, we  moved around and never stayed in one place long enough to become a part of a church family or have family nearby.  As a matter of fact, the only time I remember belonging to a church was at St Francis Catholic Church and School in Trenton, NJ. And the only time I remember large family dinners for holidays and Sundays was during the time we lived in Germany near my mother’s family.

 Our Sundays usually consisted of us kids waking up to the aroma of Sunday dinner cooking, dad watching Abbot & Costello or the Little Rascals movies on television, where I would normally join him after breakfast enjoying the antics of whatever Costello was up to that Sunday morning. We would eat a large meal around 1:00 pm, and then we would go out to play till dark while mom usually wrote letters home to Germany and dad would listen to his Big Band music on his reel to reel.  I now realize he most likely napped on the
sofa, and, because I am that age now, I usually nap while watching old movies.  Basically our Sundays were restful and full of play.

Today my Sundays are church in the morning and catching up in the afternoon, doing last minute errands and housework before the new work week begins.  I spend my time on the computer catching up with friends and playing a game or two (or three!) of solitaire.  There always seems to be something to do and the next thing I know it is time to wind down for bed and my best intentions of finishing a craft project, reading or spending time with my family are gone.   My spiritual time is in church and I thought that was enough. I never understood the importance of spending extra time with my family or enjoying my own personal delights as an act of worship.  And that means enjoying the blessings that God has lavishly given me; in nature, books, music, the gift of creativity and the joy of my family and friends, which gives God pleasure.

Our Sabbath is supposed to be a day rest.  It can be Sunday or any
day of the week that we set apart from our busy lives.  After all, we all do need a day of doing nothing, although most of the time it is hard to let go of all the demands that we put on ourselves.  And it is, but the Sabbath is more than that; it is the kind of rest we get by being in the presence of God.  It is the kind of rest we get from slowing down from those demands that we allow to control us.  In the past, I often missed out experiencing that type of rest in my life by allowing my busyness to control me.  I was so wrapped up in what needed done that I lost the sense of what the Sabbath is.  It is a time for you and I to let down our hair and play.  Can’t you hear the laughter of God as He delights in seeing us enjoying the life He gave us?   We are to set aside time to be with God in worship, spiritual growth, and in our leisure or recreation.  

My challenge to you is to unplug your phone, turn off your cell, ignore your email and shut down your computers and big screen televisions.  Find what delights you, do it with joy, and you too will find Sabbath rest. That is what I am going to do.  Each Sunday I am shutting down my computer, staying off the internet to set aside the Sabbath with worship, time with my family, and time spent doing nothing in particular just enjoying my life the way God intended.  I will also continue to set aside time each day by spending quiet reflection time with God in the mornings and to be aware of God’s pleasure with each moment of my day that I share with Him, even housework! I am finding again that Sabbath rest in my own life.

I would like to thank Christine, my Spiritual Mentor, and friend, for walking with me through the Spiritual Practices and for providing me with some of the information I used in my article.  With Christine’s guidance, the Sabbath is beginning to take root in my life.


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