Do we still need to remember the Sabbath? The answer is yes! Honoring the Sabbath was a law given to the Israelites by God himself. The Bible tells us this,
“remember the Sabbath day, to keep 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. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
Even though this was declared as a commandment so many years ago, it is still vital to our physical and spiritual health today. Sabbath is not just the absence of labor, it is actively pursuing rest, restoration, and connection.
Somehow, as a society, we have conditioned ourselves to believe that if we are not working hard, striving, obtaining, and achieving, then we are failing. We must read that verse in its entirety. It says for six days you will work, and on the seventh day you will rest. God recognizes that there is work to be done. There is value in an honest day’s work of providing for your family. He gives you six days to do it, however, you must then pause to rest and refuel. We would never expect a car to drive without gasoline, or a smartphone to operate with a dead battery. We will fill our tank and grab a charger. Yet, we somehow will not treat our own mind, body and soul as well as we treat a disposable electronic device.
As we continue to work and live at breakneck speed, we have subconsciously recognized we are reaching burn out. Do we choose to rest at this point? No. We often choose to escape using caffeine, or nicotine, or alcohol. Or we mentally check out by scrolling, eating, or Netflix binging. We fool ourselves into thinking that it is resting and restoring, but the truth is, it is further depleting us.
God knew what we needed from the beginning. He put this rhythm of renewal into place for our own good. He is the creator and author of our existence and He can be trusted to know what we need.
I am reminded of a situation in my life where God used my circumstances to show me exactly what He wanted from me. In 2017 I had two major knee surgeries and was in a locked brace and had to use crutches for several months. For several weeks, I could not bear any weight on my right leg. I also could not drive or even carry a cup of coffee on my own. The timing of this was hard. It came after several years of hard things. Hard things in which I felt I had to carry the weight for myself and those around me.
Funny that after a long season of being so “strong” in my own mind I would find myself being completely weak and helpless. I had to have friends and family drive me to physical therapy. My kids had to start riding the bus to school, and the hardest thing of all, I had to ask my husband for help with everything. Much to my surprise he was very willing, I had just never given him the space or opportunity to do so.
Cry Out To Him
One day in particular, I was feeling frustrated by my limitations. I’d even go as far to say I was depressed about the fact that I could no longer run. I’ve used running for many years as a way to deal with my stress and heavy emotions, convincing myself that this was a healthy coping mechanism. It beats grabbing a bottle of wine to deal with my stress, right? Wrong! It’s not good if you are constantly using it as a distraction from taking your need for a Savior to the only One who can help you.
That day I cried out to God in anger over all of my loss. The loss of my career as I became a mom, the loss of my “healthy” child as he faced cancer, the loss of my brother in-law, and now the loss of my physical strength and ability??? It just wasn’t fair! I told God exactly that with loud words and big tears; and when I was done with my fit, he gently showed me this verse.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will cause you to rest.” Matthew 11:28
I’ve heard this verse many times before, but that particular day, this is what had changed. In the past I heard this verse to say “I will give you rest” but the version I read that day said “I will cause you to rest”. I froze! It occurred to me that I’d been striving and surviving for many years. I’ve always trusted God, and He carried me through all of it, however, I thought I still needed to do more. So I kept pushing, kept working, kept striving and avoided the rest I so desperately needed.
I didn’t just need a nap or a vacation, but true Sabbath. I needed to rest in the arms of the Father who loved me. Restoration for my soul and connection with God, with myself and with my people. I did exactly that, and God had so much for me. It was three years full of blessings, and joy. There were still hard days, for sure, but God showed me who I was. He showed me who He was. He made my path straight and guided me toward my purpose. I had to stop and listen though. God will not speed along side of you and yell to you what you need to hear like some action movie. He may cause you to rest, then He speaks with a still small voice.
Maybe some of you can relate during this quarantine. Maybe the last few months have been your proverbial knee injury. I’m guessing that some of you were also functioning at breakneck speeds. Schedules that consumed your life with zero margin. Jobs that were too important to step away from and then God caused the world to rest. Are you fighting him? Shaking your fist and demanding to know why He has let you suffer such loss like I was? Or are you “remembering the Sabbath?” I recommend that you lean into the rhythm He so thoughtfully laid out for you. I encourage you to work hard, as you are called to do, and when your work is done, lean into the Father who desperately wants your time.