Why does rest feel like something I have to earn? It is as if I have to see how many things I have checked off my list before I deserve rest. When God created the world, he created Adam and Eve on the 6th day. On the 7th, God rested and so did Adam and Eve. Their first day was a day of rest in God’s presence.
What if the purpose of Sabbath is to work from a position of rest instead of toward it? Maybe my checklist needs to have rest at the top position versus the bottom. If I make a regular practice of coming into God’s presence, celebrating His constant provision, and thanking him for His grace, how will this change the other six days of my week?
In Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner, she writes, “There is something missing, in the Jewish Sabbath that is absent from most Christian Sundays: a true cessation from the rhythms of work and world, a time wholly set apart and, perhaps above all, a sense that the point, orientation of shabbat (Sabbath) is God.” We all have an orientation, a focus for us to move toward in this life. How can I continue through the remainder of my week if my orientation is off?
My cub scout has learned to orient his compass on north when hiking with his pack. A runner must orient herself with the road ahead, knowing which stride to take in order to tackle the terrain. If I want to have a rhythm to my week, I have to spend a day orienting myself with God.
The Jewish culture celebrates from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. They begin and end with lighting candles. A Friday feast with family continues with eating leftovers on Saturday. Through prayers and liturgy, the Jewish sabbath is a time for reflection on the Abundance of God, Dependence on God, and Redemption from the Slavery of their people. In the Christian faith, I often hear the word “Sabbath” in relation to Sunday morning worship at church, but rarely do I take a full 24 hours of rest, orienting myself with God.
I feel the need to approach Sabbath with a goal in mind: Orientation with God. I don’t want it to feel forced or routine, but craving a centering of my focus on my Creator. I want to break from everyday rhythms to focus on God’s abundance, my dependence on Him, and His redemption. I will choose a day of the week that will make it easier for me to take that break. Lynne M. Baab in her book Sabbath Keeping suggests thinking about freedom when looking at what a sabbath should look like: Freedom from Productivity, Multitasking, Technology, Media, Shopping, Competition, Talking, Anxiety. Baab suggests thinking about which form of slavery we most fall into and work on experiencing freedom in that area for sabbath.
This is going to take time and being mindful. I know God doesn’t want perfection, thankfully, He just wants me. He just wants you. Think about what your week looks like and where you need to experience freedom. What would our week look like if we work from Sabbath rest instead of toward it. Think about placing Sabbath at the top of your list, instead of at the bottom. As I approach 2020, a new year and a new decade, Sabbath will have a place in my week. I am not sure what it will look like, but my heart is craving orientation with God and freedom from areas that keep me enslaved.