A year ago I was worn down, burned out. I was working WAY too much in a very stressful environment. My priorities had gotten jumbled and I found I had placed my job first and it was getting the best of me. If you’ve ever heard the song “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North, that was my theme song.
I had coffee one morning with my pastor and as we talked about this place I was in, he suggested I try observing Sabbath. I thought that was such a strange suggestion to help with my problem of being overworked and over stressed. I couldn’t imagine how I’d be able to take off a day in my week. Too much to do!
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. ~Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV)
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It was almost the start of Lent, so I agreed to try Sabbath as my Lenten discipline. I decided Sabbath would mean taking a rest from the activities which caused me the most stress and to focus on being grateful for the gifts God has given me. Rest and delight in the Lord. That meant for one day a week: no work, no laundry and a focus on spending quality time with my kids.
Work was the easy one to identify as a prime stressor and time drain. After all, that seemed like my main issue. Laundry was a bit of a surprise. I realized I spent most of my Sundays doing laundry. Piles and piles of laundry, all day long. I would get stressed when the kids wanted to play because I needed to get the week’s laundry done.
So, I refocused my work, even working longer some weeknights so that I wouldn’t have to work on Sunday. Then, I changed my approach to laundry. Instead of doing the week’s laundry all on one day, I started running a load each weeknight so I would have it all done before Sunday.
The first Sunday I spent the day hiking with the kids. It was glorious! I wasn’t thinking about all the work or chores I should be doing, because I had all that done. I was able to just enjoy being with the kids.
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. ~Isaiah 58:13-14 (NIV)
Over the course of that Lenten season, I began to reshape my priorities. To put boundaries around my work. To not let chores consume my limited free time. And, most importantly, to spend quality time with the ones I love.
I haven’t been as focused at keeping Sabbath since then, but I have continued to manage my priorities; limiting the amount of work I do in my off hours, spreading out my chores and laundry through the week so it’s not a consuming exercise on the weekends, and making sure I spend focused time each week with my kids. My Sabbath experience helped create more balance in my life, by defining what’s truly important to me and prioritizing those things.
I still occasionally do laundry on Sundays, but only if it’s critical. I’ve learned to be OK with leaving laundry buckets queued up for washing later in the week, as long as everyone has enough clean clothes for another day or two. Even better, my kids now like to help where they can!
Today, Sabbath means things like my work computer stays in its bag when I’m at home. It means some nights, instead of working on a particular project, I’ll take a long bath, which is my favorite way to relax and spend time with God. Or, today when I really wanted to spend time writing, I chose instead to ride bikes and play baseball with Ryan. Through Sabbath, I’m learning to let go, allow myself to rest and live into the rhythm of life.
“A Sabbath rest still remains for the people of God…Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest.” —Hebrews 4:9,11 (NRSV)
You know how sometimes you feel like a sermon is being directed right at you on Sunday morning? I’m thinking that you wrote this post just for me! 🙂 Thank you!!
Kelley – maybe you’re the reason I had an overwhelming nudge to write this post yesterday. Had another one all queued up for this morning, but something told me to write this one instead 🙂 I think you could probably use a little Sabbath rest! Find that time to rest and rekindle your delight in the Lord. Maybe a good exercise for Summer!
I’ve really tried hard to make my weekends my free time. It’s so much easier to do laundry during the week. I changed it to weeknights as it doesn’t seem as overwhelming (yes, it’s still just me and the 2 cats but they have lots of blankets). Sunday mornings are beautiful, restful, and a joy. It’s that little bit of calm in the storm that makes me realize how powerful God is – he made it all and we need to enjoy it.
Great approach, Carla! So important to find some restful time, especially after a hectic week!
Love that in keeping the Sabbath, you have gained time with your family & some little helpers! I visited from Unite this morning. Have a blessed week!
Great point! We to often use the Sabbath for catching up when we should be focusing on Christ. <3
When I started, I thought it would be a burden to carve out this ‘extra’ time, but it was freeing instead. The time was there all along, just needed to be reprioritized! Thanks for stopping by!
I can’t imagine life without Sabbath rest :). It’s anchored my week my entire life. I’m glad you’ve found the joy of rest.
Yes the Sabbath. It’s hard to keep Holy these days in the world we live in. But it shouldn’t matter should it. I read this awesome book about keeping the Sabbath: Sabbath by Wayne Muller. Totally worth your time, maybe even read it on your Sabbath.
Thanks, Hope! I’ll have to check out that book! I read (and liked) Living the Sabbath by Norman Wirzba.
Oh thanks for that read Kathryn! I’ll look into that.
Marissa D says
What a great way to practice an age old command in this modern world… starting off with strict focus and moving to a way that allows you to live at your best, it’s great. Thank you for sharing with Salt & Light!
Right idea for a sabbath rest but Yahweh was referring to Saturday as the sabbath he chose, not Sunday. He never changes and never changed the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday but man did… When you look at other languages such as spanish Saturday is called Sabado. Saturday is the seventh day of the week and Sunday is the first day. Yahweh’s days are sunset to sunset so it is actually friday sunset to Saturday Sunset. Most practicing Jews still keep the Saturday sabbath. Please pray about this and the holy spirit of truth will reveal it to you. Have a blessed day.
the conway says
You do not have to br religious as long as you take a day of rest and celebrate Jesus in your heart soul abody andm mind.
t conway says
Religious in the day you celebrate
Yes, Jesus told us to love The Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind. I find that Sabbath helps me do that – even if it’s only in small pieces throughout the week, even if it’s not on Saturday or Sunday. What’s been important to me is setting aside time that’s not spent working, not at soccer games, not helping with homework, not doing chores. Instead, it’s time to spend with God, time to cherish gifts from God and time to rest so I can continue the race He’s set out before me. Maybe unconventional, but it’s what works for now in my modern-day life.
Kathy Haan says
I’m curious…does God consider blogging “work” if it’s something you truly enjoy?
Weekends seem to be the time when I blog most–queuing things for the week.
Interesting question! As I was researching and deciding what ‘sabbath’ would mean in my life, it came down to rest and ‘delighting in the Lord’. For me, that meant putting defined boundaries around my day job and my chores – things that were taking focus away from my family and from worship. I’ve found blogging to be time I spend with God – time I’m in my Bible, in prayer and listening to God’s direction for what I write. It’s also a time I feel re-energized and renewed in my faith walk. So, I think the answer depends on what that time means to you. Does it refresh you and bring you closer to God – or does is distract? Will have to add this to that list of questions we ask when we finally meet Him face-to-face…
So true! And so good to hear! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and being a part of the “How I… Community” I love stumbling across blogs full of truth that I never would have seen otherwise. =]
Glad you found my little corner of the world – thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon 🙂
Hi Kathryn, it’s such a blessing that you linked up with the “How I…” community today! This is a beautiful, helpful, insightful post. I completely agree that some level of prep, planning and responsibility redistribution helps a lot with having the pressure off to work when we should be resting. I need to re-invest in being more intentional in this part of Sabbath again. I love seeing your big little man helping with the laundry! 🙂
Thanks for the prompt today in the “How I…” community to think about Sabbath and how to live it out. Looking forward to reading more examples – and getting more deliberate in my own life. It’s hard to carve out that time, but makes such a difference in the week.
Becky Keife (@BeckyKeife) says
“Rest and delight in the Lord.” I love this definition of Sabbath! Yes, that is where my heart is, too. Thankful to have linked up with you at Elise’s “How I…”
I love this thought and when people observe the Sabbath it really rejuvenates their lives. My husband’s grandma wrote a book called ‘Turn the Windmill of it’s Sunday’ about her life growing up in Australia around the time of the 2nd world war and how on Sunday they wouldn’t even let the windmill work and some of the blessings in their lives around the sabbath. I recently read a book called Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner //lizzyainsworthbooks.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/mudhouse-sabbath-book-review.html which was really great in understanding not only the Sabbath but other customs in the Bible that God says to keep
I love this Kathryn! As a Pastor’s wife and mom of 7, I read a book a long time ago- Making Sunday’s Special. The same thing happened for me! I reorientated my work to M-F for the basics (especially the laundry!!!) Then Saturday was play day with my hubby and the kids. Then sometime Saturday I would plan and make dinner for Sunday (crockpot or sandwiches) anything I could make so I wouldn’t be cooking on Sundays. And with the 7 kids- we got in the habit of laying out clothes and shoes Saturday nights after baths so we wouldn’t be stressed on Sundays. It set a beautiful rhythm for the week and the weekend. I love how God actually wants us to rest and be blessed! hugs and blessings!
Love how incorporating rest and stillness into the rhythm of our lives is so restorative and renewing. Allows God to refill us, so we can go back out and continue the race laid before us. I’m sharing this story at a women’s retreat this weekend about “Be Still” and am so excited to see how we all learn new ways to find that stillness, that Sabbath rest, with God.
Verna Peters says
Here are some thoughts on the Sabbath. God sanctified and made one day in the week holy. What day does the Bible say that is? If God makes something holy, can we change that? If we worship on a different day than God blessed and made holy, (see Genesis 1:31-2:3) do we have a problem? Have you noticed that one of the 10 commandments begins with the word “Remember.” Why do you suppose that is? And Matthew 5:18 is an interesting text. Here it is from the Good News Bible–“Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the law will be done away with….” I wonder if it is alright for me to come to your birthday party one or two days late. Will I find you having a party then, if the invitation was for an earlier date? An interesting study would be to find out how and when someone decided to “change” the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Here are more thoughts on the Sabbath from the Discover Bible Lessons:
A Weekly Link With Jesus. After Christ created the world in six days (Colossians 1:16-17), He provided Sabbath-rest as a weekly opportunity for us to cultivate our connection with Him.
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he RESTED from all his work. And God BLESSED the seventh day and MADE IT HOLY, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”-Genesis 1:31-2:3.
As their Creator, Jesus “rested” on the first Sabbath with Adam and Eve, and He “blessed” that day and “made it holy.”
God established a seven-day weekly cycle-not for His own benefit, but for Adam and Eve and for us today. Because He cared so much for the two people He had made, He planned that every seventh day throughout their lives should be dedicated to seeking His presence. Each Sabbath, as He called it, was to be for them a day of both physical rest and spiritual refreshment.
The entrance of sin into our world only made the need for Sabbath rest more acute. The same Saviour who promised Adam and Eve “rest,” gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai (1 Corinthians 10:1-4) about two thousand years later. Jesus chose to place the Sabbath-rest commandment at the very heart of the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment reads:
“REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY BY KEEPING IT HOLY. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he RESTED on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD BLESSED the Sabbath day and MADE IT HOLY.”-Exodus 20:8-11.
God established the Sabbath as a day to “remember” the Lord who “made the heavens and the earth.” Sabbath rest each week links us with the Creator who blessed this day and set it apart.
When Jesus lived on earth, He took advantage of every opportunity to sustain His union with the Father. He benefited from Sabbath rest, as Luke tells us:
“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and ON THE SABBATH DAY he went into the synagogue, AS WAS HIS CUSTOM.”-Luke 4:16.
If the divine-human Jesus needed to rest in His Father’s presence on the Sabbath day, we human beings certainly need it more. When Jesus swept aside the legal restrictions the Jews had placed on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-12), He pointed out that God had made it to benefit people:
“He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.'”-Mark 2:27, 28.
Jesus highlighted the importance of the Sabbath even in His death. He died on Friday, “the Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin” (Luke 23:54). At that moment He declared, “It is finished,” that is, His work of coming to this world and dying as substitute for the human race was complete (John 19:30; 4:34; 5:30). The great work of redemption had been accomplished. Then to celebrate His finished mission, Jesus rested in the tomb over the Sabbath. Just as Christ completed His work of creation on the sixth day and then rested on the seventh day, so through making atonement at the cross He completed His work of recreating people on the sixth day, and then rested on the seventh.
On Sunday morning Jesus came out from the tomb, a victorious Saviour (Luke 24:1-5). He had already asked His disciples to maintain the Sabbath encounter with Him after His resurrection. Speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place nearly forty years after His death, He charged them:
“Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.”-Matthew 24:20.
Our Saviour wanted His disciples and their converts to continue the practices He had taught them. He wanted them to experience both salvation-rest and Sabbath-rest. They did not disappoint Him. The disciples continued to observe the Sabbath after Christ’s death (see Luke 23:54-56; Acts 13:14; 16:13; 17:2; 18:1-4).
The beloved apostle John kept up his weekly link with Christ on the Sabbath day. In his later years he wrote, “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit” (Revelation 1:10). According to Jesus, “the Lord’s Day” is the Sabbath, “for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8).
On the Sabbath we celebrate the Lord’s two greatest accomplishments on our behalf: creating us and saving us. This Sabbath experience will continue in heaven:
“‘As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,’ declares the LORD, . . . ‘from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,’ says the LORD.”-Isaiah 66:22, 23.
God originally established the Sabbath as a memorial of creation, so it’s fitting that His last-day message should include a call back to worshiping our Creator through obeying His commandments (Revelation 14:7, 12). This message from the last book in the Bible includes observing the Sabbath commandment as a memorial to the Creator.