If you haven’t figured it out yet, or you are joining me for the first time, I am on a journey to find more calm in my life. I am not alone in this journey, my husband was just away on a trip in the Alabama wilderness. He sent me an abundance of pictures as he walked through the woods, overcome by the simplicity of creation and the calm solitude it demands.
I spoke at my church this week about finding wilderness moments with God. I shared about my need to get alone with Him in the quiet, to feel His presence and discover all He wants to show me. My days are so full of noise that I become used to the commotion. When there are moments of silence, I find myself wanting to fill the void, instead of allowing God to fill it.
In my journey of rest, I have been reading about sabbath. Interestingly it is the one commandment we don’t take seriously. After God created the world, He rested on the seventh day, declared it holy and he blessed it. While many of us declare attending church as our day of sabbath, how often do we actually rest for the entire day, free from stress and distraction, then declare the day holy and ask God to bless it?
The Israelites were instructed to keep the sabbath after being rescued from the oppression of the Pharaoh. God wanted them to stop, one day a week to celebrate their freedom and focus on not the creation of the world (as God did), but the creation of the nation of Israel. For us, sabbath is a gift of time, to celebrate freedom from the things of this world that keep our lives rushed and stressed. We can celebrate our freedom from sin and the new life God continues to create within us. In the book, Sabbath Keeping by Lynne M. Baab, she says “Without time to stop, we cannot notice God’s hand in our lives, practice thankfulness, step outside our culture’s values or explore our deepest longings. Without time to rest, we will seriously undermine our ability to experience God’s unconditional love and acceptance. The sabbath is a gift whose blessings cannot be found anywhere else.”
My exploration of sabbath is not complete. It will be ongoing and evolving. I have more reading to do as I determine how to incorporate it into my week. The value of the gift of sabbath is something I have been feeling for a while. Growing up, I remember stores being closed on Sundays and then the huge impact on my town as stores began to have Sunday hours. Hustle and bustle 24/7 was becoming the norm and it only took a mere twenty years for the effects to wreak havoc on our society. Our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health as a whole is in rapid decline. While I don’t have scientific facts to back this up, I have lived long enough to see that our society is deteriorating at such a pace that if we do not take a day to connect with our Creator and rest, we will continue down a detrimental path.
Next week I will share more ideas about observing Sabbath. I am learning that God has given me a gift that I have chosen not to open. It is a gift of time that is taking up space as I shove it around my weekly schedule refusing to untie the bow and choosing to keep it sealed.
As we approach the season of gift giving, think about opening the gift of Sabbath in the new year and allowing it to play a significant role in your week. We could all use a little more celebration and focus on the work God is doing in each of our lives.