Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.
The same summer of the COVID social distancing mandates, my husband injured his shoulder so badly that it required surgery and many months of physical therapy. We would not be taking the family camping and mountain biking trips we had planned. But that summer God used this very real brokenness to teach us about His designated Sabbath and how good it was for us.
As if the stress of COVID and surgery were not enough, this season also included a tough work environment for me where I literally felt like I was drowning. Plus, my husband had started his new job just weeks after his surgery. Stress and fear in this volatile season seemed like constants. We needed a reprieve from the overwhelming worry and striving that plagued much of the world through the pandemic.
So we started a new tradition - family adventure Sabbath Sundays. Some Sundays were lake days, where we would soak in the sunshine at the different reservoirs around our house. Some were river days or creek days where the kids would play, and the adults would allow the sound of moving water wash away our stress. Some days were car rides to nearby mountain towns with majestic views and new places to explore.
No matter what kind of day we planned though, it always brought us peace, joy, and gratitude that would sustain us through the week.
We learned that it was not about the activity, or even the lack of activity as some would define the Sabbath. It was about choosing to lay down worry and strife and enjoy the blessings God had already provided. By focusing on the good we already had, we were reminded that God was good, in control, and could be trusted. We had much to be thankful for even in unprecedented seasons. And as we laid down our worry, and replaced it with gratefulness and joy, we entered into His true rest - rest for our souls.
Drink from The Well:
"Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy."
Exodus 31:13 “Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.
Keeping the Sabbath seems like one of those rules that is not so important. We certainly treat it that way even amongst the Christian circles. But what if God knows it is vitally important? What if it is as important for our overall well-being as not worshipping idols? For me, not keeping the Sabbath and idol worship are intertwined. I know I have more focus on whatever I am trying to accomplish than God when I cannot seem to rest. I know I am not trusting God and am trusting in myself. And I know that burnout is around the corner because I have been there often.
Do you have a regular practice of resting one day per week? If not, what is keeping you from practicing a Sabbath? If so, what do you still struggle with (e.g. there are certain Sundays I struggle with being present because in my mind I am still worrying)?
So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
Most often we think of Sabbath and rest as stopping and this is true. The Hebrew word Shabbat means to cease striving, working, and doing. It is the word used to designate the seventh day of rest as God did at creation. But the word rest used in Hebrews 4:9 is the Greek word Sabbatismos which stresses the celebratory nature of rest.
There is a special rest for Christ believers because we have been covered by the blood of the lamb. This should cause us to both stop striving and celebrate that we are freed, cared for, and loved by the God who created everything. This is the truest rest our souls are longing for, and He gave us the way to enter into His rest. All we have to do is believe!
What would it look like for you or your family to celebrate God and His provision as your day of rest? Could it be something different than what you thought, like doing something you enjoy and helps you fill with gratitude?
But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
But. That is the keyword in this scripture. The word was getting around and Jesus's popularity was growing, BUT He made time for prayer.
Jesus had a ton to do. Good work like healing the sick from their diseases, BUT He withdrew from even this good work to pray.
Crowds followed Him everywhere, never giving Him time to rest, BUT He knew He needed God, so He went off to the wilderness, often early in the morning before others awoke so He could be alone and rest with His Father.
I know you have a lot to do. I do too. There is so much work to do...BUT we need a Sabbath to rest in our Father's love. We need to be as intentional as Jesus was about taking time to rest and pray. Journal a few ways you could be more intentional to make time to rest and pray.
Break Up With the World
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
We live in a prove yourself, hustle harder, pull yourself up by your bootstraps culture. So I don't have to ask if you are tired. We are tired. We were not designed to work this hard. We were designed to work with God allowing Him to bless us both in our work and in our rest.
We must break up with the culture that says we have to transcend our limits and instead learn to accept them. We aren’t all-powerful. We were made to rest. We aren’t all-knowing. We need to gain wisdom and ask questions. We aren’t omnipresent. We can be in only one place at a time. We aren’t infinite. We are bound by time.
We aren’t God. We need God. And that is what the Sabbath is for. A time to refocus on our need for God and the amazing way He loves and cares for us even when we are prone to wander.
Make a plan for how you will start practicing the Sabbath. Remember it should be a ceasing of all striving and something that you enjoy and helps you focus on God's blessings in your life. The focus is God and trusting His care for you so your soul can finally rest. And join me for the challenge!
#Sabbathfamilysundays or #Sabbathfundays Challenge
Use the two hashtags to post (but not until your sabbath is over) a picture of your Sabbath family and/ or fun days for the rest of July! This will be a fun way to celebrate God's goodness and inspire ourselves and other to enter into His rest!
Father, you are so good. You have everything under control and you care for us. So we can rest in You. And you love us so much you sent your Son to die for us. This should cause us to celebrate in your goodness and know that we can cease striving. Thank you, Lord, that you made the Sabbath for us. Help us to follow your command and in it be reminded how good you are to us. In Jesus's name, Amen.
Four Corners Christian Celebration
August 18-21 - Aztec, NM
I am so honored to speak at Four Corners Christian Festival this year! I took my kids last year who played for hours on the paddle boards and bouncy rope tree house, while I enjoyed the music and messages. It is a beautiful outdoor venue with so many fun activities for the whole family.
If you live in the four corners area, I hope to see you there!