A New Look at Sabbath

Growing up, going to church every Sunday was a common practice. I loved that this was a rhythm that was deeply engrained in me. Even though I didn’t have a deep understanding of what the Biblical word Sabbath actually meant, I now realize we practiced its essence. Sabbath is a time to stop and rest. It’s a time to enjoy God, enjoy being with like-minded people in our faith community, enjoy a family meal, enjoy a nap, and anything else that was life-giving. This change of pace and shifting of focus is a gift from God that provides a way for our souls and bodies to be replenished. God knew we needed this. He established a day of Sabbath from the beginning of time.  It demonstrates God’s loving care for us. When I was growing up it was easy to set apart that day to rest and recharge since there was no cable or satellite TV, no retail stores beckoning me to shop (they were closed) and no internet. It wasn’t complicated to practice “Sabbath”.

Times began changing dramatically in the 90’s . . . but, our souls have not changed. The reason for Sabbath has not changed. We still need the weekly rhythm of practicing Sabbath which provides a way for our souls to be restored and replenished for another week. God knows our human limitations. He says in Jeremiah 31:25 that He will refresh tired bodies and restore tired souls.

A few years ago my husband and I discovered how easy it is to fall into a trap that was depleting us of joy when we allowed technology to steal peace and joy from us on the day when we could be filled up with things that satisfy. We never gave up our weekly habit of going to church, but we’d lost God’s original intention for Sabbath – a day set apart so that we can be reminded of who and what is most important, particularly our relationship with Him. The reality: you can do Sabbath. Here are some tips:  

  • Pick a day. It doesn’t have to be Saturday or Sunday. Our preference is Friday evening through Saturday evening, but you can choose what fits you and your family best.
  • On this day, with God’s help, let go of anxieties and worries that are taking up space in your hearts and minds. Give the mind a rest from troubling thoughts. This makes room for delighting in the peace, joy, and love of God.  Gwen Smith of Potter’s Inn ministries suggests writing down those things that are sucking life and energy from us and putting them in a little box she calls a Sabbath box.  
  • Take a rest from work and any kind of technology that is life-draining instead of life-giving.
  • Do something fun and playful. Allow for spontaneity.
  • If Sunday is the day you practice Sabbath, then enjoy celebrating Creator and Redeemer God with your faith community.
  • Take longer periods of time for contemplative and reflective practices such as silence and solitude, reading and praying the Scripture, journaling.  There are numerous ways to delight in the presence of Jesus. Linger in this sacred place as you enjoy time with Him soaking in His love, grace, goodness, and peace.

 I remember three years ago being in a listening group discussing ways to practice Sabbath. For most of us our Sabbath Day was always on Sundays. However, for this particular group, Sundays were a work day and that was not going to change. We realized being a legalist about the particular day had to go. Freedom came to us as we discovered that the Sabbath rest can be celebrated on another day of the week.

God desires that we become more whole in body and soul. That means He’s okay when we take our Sabbath rest on a different day than Sunday. It’s out of His care and love for us that He established the weekly rhythm of Sabbath. We’ve been intensely blessed through making this part of our Rule of Life. It’s one of the most transformative things we’ve ever done.