Over the past couple of months I’ve been sharing some thoughts on how we shift our focus away from our busyness and ourselves to refocus on Jesus. In my first post, we shared about meditating on Scripture and the second one in Holy Week was about the power and wonder of Stillness.
This time around I wanted to share about a practice that I’ve taken on more conscientiously this year … Sabbath rest.
“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life” (Dallas Willard)
I’ve read that quote from Dallas Willard, one of my favourite teachers, many times. Willard believed that hurry was “the great enemy of the spiritual life.” I think we can all testify to how challenging busyness is and how it can limit our time with God, and Christian friends. How frequently do you respond when someone asks ‘how are you’ with something along the lines of ‘good … just very busy’ or that’s the response you get when you ask similarly?
We live in a busy world. There are many people who believe it’s the enemy’s greatest weapon in keeping believers away from God: just keep them busy.
I only noticed the other day how I was feeling out of kilter. It didn’t take me long to appreciate why. I had been running around for several days being very busy and hadn’t spent sufficient time with God. I hadn’t refuelled. I was doing everything out of my own strength.
Yes, I know, Jesus lived in a time when there were no cars and really the only way to commute was by walking. But it’s fair to stay Jesus did a lot of it.
Jesus never hurried. Read that again.
Why should we?
We’re all familiar with the notion of the Sabbath. I’ll be honest I probably haven’t ever strictly adopted a practice of setting aside a day to rest. Be with God, celebrate with family and friends and try to do no work, even household chores.
But I’ve been trying to do it this year. And even then, I still seem to do one load of washing. But I’m not going to beat myself up about that.
We were designed to rest. Why? Besides the obvious physical and mental benefits of rest, Krispin Mayfield shares another practical benefit:
“... it is when we rest and cease our striving that we experience God’s presence more consistently.”
And that’s what we’re trying to do here, isn’t it? Shift our focus increasingly towards Jesus more consistently.
I don’t think Sabbath has to be Sunday. Many people do it on Saturday. I do sometimes. As life tends to be so different for each one of us, there’s no reason it can’t be any day of the week really. It’s more what we do with our time that’s more the issue, not what day we do it.
It's challenging with a household of kids, chores, kids sport, music lessons, and so on to be able to set aside a whole day to not do any form or work or anything. What about making lunch and dinner? That’s part of the feasting so I reckon that’s okay. (I really appreciated this during Lent. Fast for 6 days and Sunday is feast day. So no fasting! Woohoo!)
For we SUMites it can be even more challenging because our partner might not get the concept of Sabbath and expect weekends to be about household projects.
We can get very legalistic about it but like all things spiritual it's more about what’s going on in our hearts and our attitude towards such a practice. It’s about letting go for a while, resting, relaxing, loving and feasting. Not about ticking boxes off.
Remember, God knows our situations. He understands. He appreciates that our Sabbath might be a couple of hours here, a couple there. Just talk to Him, involve Him in it. Ask Him to reveal His passion for it and how He can assist you to introduce/practice it. His way is the gentle way; the easy yoke. No stressing allowed.
Next time, I’ll share some more on simplifying our days. In the meantime, be great if we could have a conversation in the comments about our Sabbath’s. Do we practice it? How do we do it? Once again, no guilt here, no condemnation. It’s only something I’ve finally started taking seriously. Let’s love each other in the comments.
Grace and peace.