Here I am!
I am still alive!
Not without some struggle and pain along the way. Short story to suffice, I’ve been struggling with some eye issues the past three weeks, which are now under control. Eye pain is one of those things that is hard to explain its severity if you have never experienced it firsthand. It truly is a thought-crushingly oppressive ache and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. After seeing five, yes five, doctors we finally have an answer(?) and things should start seeming normal again.
Something I have been challenged about through reading Scripture and a book called “Subversive Sabbath” by A.J. Swoboda is that Christianity has truly lost the concept of Sabbath. Swoboda points out that we hit hard 9 out of 10 Commandments, but tend to skip right over the idea of keeping a Sabbath holy. Notice, the Sabbath is holy to begin with, the issue is whether not we’re obedient enough to keep it that way.
Much like my oppressive eye pain, we’re all working under a system that requires us to put out much more than we get. Our American mindset scoffs at the idea of a day off, really. I’ve said it before, but I have heard so many people brag (including myself) about how many days we’ve worked at a stretch without a real rest. We’re bragging about living in Egypt, really. “Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest,” says Jesus to the working men and women of his day. He welcomed them, and welcomes us, into a Sabbath rest of our own.
I know well the hectic schedule, the tyranny of the urgent. But even Jesus rested. We have clear indications in the Gospel accounts that Jesus took time to rest with friends – Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Jesus took time to head back to base, like when he returns to Capernaum. It’s really a kind of idolatry and arrogance to even consider that we could function longer, stronger, more determinedly than Jesus.
I could tell you why Sabbath is important all day, but if we are a people who can accept, “Be baptized,” and “Take, eat and remember me,” resting should be one of those things we do to signal to the world that we are different, that God’s order has come at last.
Some Sabbath suggestions:
Pick a day. As a minister, Sunday’s not really a choice for Sabbath. So my baby girl and I take ours on Thursday. We keep the TV off. We listen to stories and play. We go for a walk. It’s a day for me to turn off work world and simply be. Now, I’m not perfect and usually end up trying to do chores and what not, but each week I get a little better.
Say no. This is a dangerous one to say as a leader of volunteers. Say no if you need a Sabbath. Protect it as much as you can. People won’t understand at first if you say, “Hey, it’s my Sabbath and I have to say ‘no.'” They won’t understand until they try it themselves.
Invite your kids to Sabbath with you. Kids’ schedules are so busy. Parties, gymnastics, cheerleading, baseball, wrestling, you name it, your family probably has it on the schedule. What are you teaching your kids about good balance in life if your family never takes a day off? How do your kids begin to develop expectations of how life works if rest is never included?
Start small. Can’t turn off everything? Start with the TV, or the tablet, or maybe just your phone. Get outside for a few minutes. Whatever you decide, just start. Whatever intentional time you can devote to rest God will honor. Remember, Sabbath is holy because God made it, but it’s our choice to keep it or not.
No shame. Sabbath isn’t about guilt or shame. It’s about rest. Do what you can and let God transform your life.
The real question is: are you willing to trust God enough to let Him be God, or will you put yourself in His position and try to continue on pretending to be limitless? Which would you choose for your children?