I decided to use this space to write only when I felt I had something worth sharing, which obviously, has become less and less often as time passes. However, I do want to share with you about some lessons I’ve been learning over the months on the Sabbath.
We have some interesting ideas on the Sabbath and what it means. I know this, because I’ve asked a ridiculous number of people their thoughts on it, and all of the ideas are quite different to one another. But the overarching themes seem to be 1) Sabbath means church day. 2) Sabbath was for the Jews 3) Sabbath seems to be the 90’s outlook on Heaven. Lots of quiet and holiness and choirs singing and boredom. In fact, though no one would dare use the word, holy=boring to many.
But the more I read on the Sabbath for theology classes and papers that were due, the more my heart was stirred to lean into it. Then, our church hosted an amazing conference back a couple of months ago called Dwell that spoke on dwelling with God in several ways, and one of the ways was through the spiritual disciplines. If you’re anything like me, you may be like, “what are those?” and “they don’t sound fun.” 😉 I had never heard that term before classes and Dwell, but spiritual disciplines simply mean habits that we live to draw closer to God, several or all of which you already live out. There’s a list of these disciplines and the lists seem to change in minor ways depending on who has written it, but the gist of it goes prayer, worship, serving, Scripture reading, solitude/silence, Sabbath, fasting, giving, meditation, and confession, in no particular order of importance.
I want to share with you what I’ve learned about the Sabbath, about what it is and why it’s still in that list of disciples even this side of the cross. But first, let me share why our family has started the change into observing a Sabbath day with freedom in Christ.
Yes, rest sounds lovely and we could all use a good dose of it every week, but the restfulness we receive from the Sabbath is really just a byproduct of the real reason we observe it. The Sabbath first and foremost was set to be a reminder. God created the world, then rested on the seventh day and told people from then on out to follow his modeling. Work six days, rest the seventh. Why? Because we tend to overdue it? maybe. Because we need to rest and get ready for the next week? maybe.
But God has a really amazing habit of giving us good gifts along with a way to remember him and his provision. He established many festivals and celebrations for his people to remember his provisions like rain and a good harvest, or to remember major milestones of his provision, like freedom from Egyptian slavery. So with the Sabbath, he gave rest and refreshment to remember that he created the universe. He did. Not me. Not us. He lets us rest so that we understand we aren’t God.
It sounds easy and nice, right? Relax and remember he’s the One in control? yep, sounds like a good day to me. except, no one hardly does it. We work and work, then we sit down to rest and maybe read a book only for a laundry basket of clothes to catch our eye. I knew it was hard for me to sit still and relax, but I assumed that was just part of the mom in me, but then something caught my attention a couple of months back. Jennie Allen posted a list on facebook yesterday from A.W. Tozer of Rules of Self Discovery. I actually go through this list several times a year, because introspection is oddly fun to me. But when I went through the questions back in February, I felt like I was looking into a mirror and seeing for the first time the heart behind my busyness. Here were several of my answers a few months back when this journey to the Sabbath began.
What we want most: to learn. quiet/order
I enjoy reading and learning. I love my school work and growing in my understanding of what God has revealed of himself. So there’s that desire, but I also want order. I struggled to find the exact words without sounding petty, but honestly, I want a picked up house, organized meals, calm and happy children, a mowed yard, my car to be clean inside, and on and on. I don’t need perfection, and when everything goes crazy, I roll with it. But I was unaware of how much of my desires revolve around order. I basically want my life to look the way I think it looks best.
What we think about most: theology (it’s my major so it’s currently my life) but also, more order.
I was not surprised by the theology part, I often wait eagerly for someone who actually wants to chat about justification or theories on the Tree of Life. But, again, I was pretty unaware of the overarching theme of my desires, but what do I spend a lot of my thought life on? I put a lot of thought into planning, organizing, reworking any issues. I use planners, to-do lists, and pinterest to rework my life over and over in an effort to make it flow more smoothly, because….I want order. If there is an behavioral issue with one of my kiddos, I will think and think, obsess, talk to those I respect, and whatever else trying to help correct the issues before laying it before God’s throne and stepping back. If our schedule has issues and we just aren’t making it somewhere on time, or we keep running out of this product repeatedly, or anything that may throw a kink in my life running the way I desire it to run.
How we use our money: food! and on things my kids really don’t need, sigh. but also? controlling chaos
yes, I totally spend my extra money on yummy food and cutesy things for my kids, and I’m totally trying to stop the excessiveness of that. However, I also spend my extra money on tubs, food that is not as healthy but easier and faster, and other random things that when I really stop and think, I’m trying to keep everything running smoother. This question wasn’t incredibly revealing, but I really think that may have more to do with not having unlimited money to spend at The Container Store than my own self-control.
What we do with our leisure time: ? pinterest? reading.
Because of the current season of life, I struggle to call any of my time “leisure” time. I know that’ll change when I’m not sneaking textbook reading and paper writing into my evenings and all open spaces in my days. However, if I am zoning out and wasting that time, I’m probably planning something or pinteresting ideas on meals or ways to fix some situation, house thing, or whatever.
The company we enjoy: friends, especially those who have a contagious love of Jesus
This one wasn’t that eye opening, except that it made me really grateful! I really enjoy people, and we’ve been really blessed with our friendships. There are so many that have such a love for Christ that they’re a breath of fresh air to be around them.
Who and what we admire: ironically, I most admire people who submit to God and live a life of dwelling with him!
Despite my obvious life of trying to control things, I really admire those who don’t! Sometimes, it’s what we lack that we admire most in others, so introspection and questions like these are really revealing to ask ourselves!
What we laugh at: Friends (the show, though I have some funny friends too ;)) my kids
This question was the most convicting. Wanna know why? Because it was hard for me to find something I regularly laugh at. When you’re elbow deep in trying to run the world, you don’t have a lot of extra giggle time, you know what I mean?
This list was pretty revealing this year on where my heart was and how little I was trusting and submitting to God. I wanted the job of ruler of my own world, and I spent as much of my desires, thoughts, money, time, and more as I could on keeping a white knuckle grip on my life. Enter: Sabbath.
Do you know what the Sabbath means for a control freak? Sabbath means you have to stop. You have to let it go, be still, and breathe in deeply the knowledge that you can’t do it all and it’s a waste of energy to even try. Peter Scazzero said in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, that one thing we must accept is that we will all leave this world with a list of things we never got to do. We will never accomplish all that we wish or even all that we need, because we’re human, fallen, and time is ticking. So, you stop, rest, and enjoy God’s creation once a week, refusing to pick up that laundry basket or try to be the one who holds your life all together. It means submitting to the truth that I am not a special snowflake, and everyone in my life will not dissolve into tears if I’m not there to save the day. On Sabbath, I’m small and weak, but wholly loved. He is huge and all powerful, but waiting for us to let him love us. The strangest thing is that I never realized until the Sabbath that sometimes, not doing something turns out to be the most worshipful thing I can do.
I plan on sharing more of the details of this journey to the Sabbath I have been on, including what that actually looks like in a crazy house with three young children (because it does not look like the silent, rules-oriented day some seem to imagine), and I hope you’ll follow along and give me your own insight into your thoughts on the Sabbath!