Rest is a big deal. Many cultures around the world shut down business for a couple of hours every day so that employees can go home and take a nap. US businesses are figuring this out too: Google, Huffington Post, and NASA have installed nap pods on site to allow for rest during the work day. Our brains function at higher capacities when they are rested. A good example of this was actually on my favorite tv show this week.
In the latest episode of Madam Secretary, Henry and Elizabeth’s niece was about to go to Iraq to be a trauma nurse for wounded soldiers. She was asked how well she slept because that was the number one indicator (over training) of whether or not she was fit for such a high stress, think-on-your-feet job. I think most of us would agree that sleep and rest are important.
Obviously, our Creator knows that we need rest. He made us body, soul, and spirit. Each of these three parts benefits when we are intentional with our Sabbath. The Sabbath is a time for rest but it’s also a bit deeper than that. It is also a conscious effort to obey God, trust Him for provision, and receive a weekly gift.
We are going to review a lot of scripture today. I want to challenge you not to skip them (I’m always tempted to do that because I feel like I know them). They are more important than what I have to say!
- Honoring the Sabbath is done in obedience to God.
God loves us so much that He put the principle of Sabbath right at the beginning of the Word.
“On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation” (Genesis 2:2).
In my humble opinion, I don’t think God needed sleep. I think He was teaching us this principle and showing us how seriously He takes this whole Sabbath idea. He was being an example to us. If the infinite God of the universe rested from His work, then I guess I should too. His word commands it.
“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 5:12-14a).
- Honoring the Sabbath is trusting God for provision.
Taking a day off from work means taking a day off from potential pay. Over and over again in scripture, God expects our first and our best. Sacrifices were expected to be of the first and best of the flocks and harvest. Tithing is giving God our first and best finances. That’s the same idea with Sabbath. There is faith required to trust Him to provide for us as we take a day off every single week. It’s the belief that God can accomplish more through us in less time when we put Him first.
Truett Cathy decided that his company, Chick-fil-a, was going to honor the Sabbath and be closed on Sundays. “Logic would suggest that closing on Sunday would cost Chick-fil-A approximately one-seventh of their potential business… As of 2014, Chick-fil-A sat at No. 8 in the U.S. for sales, but when divided by location, they jump right to No. 1. That’s because although their sales are a small fraction of a chain like McDonald’s, they have even fewer locations, so their average income is higher—and that’s even without opening on Sundays.” (https://www.mashed.com/25923/real-reason-chick-fil-closed-sundays/?utm_campaign=clip) Many attribute CFA’s success to the fact that they are closed once a week. God has blessed them.
- Sabbath is a gift.
I think many people miss this. Our flesh is bent towards rules and religion but the Sabbath was created for us. It’s not meant to be a burden, but a blessing.
“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.”
This is quite a passage! If you keep the Sabbath and if you call Sabbath a delight, then you will find joy, triumph, and inheritance. Wow. Do you see the how this was intended to be a joyous gift to us?
The Pharisees tried to use the Sabbath against Jesus. Jesus says this in Mark 2:27-28,
“Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So, the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
The Sabbath was instituted to meet our needs. Here is an example of how we Sabbath just in case you’re not even sure what it could look like:
Because we are pastors, Sunday is not a Sabbath day for us. It’s actually our biggest work day of the week. Our Sabbath is on Mondays. Our kids go to school and hubby and I spend the day together. We go on dates, explore, hike, watch tv, have time with Jesus, whatever sounds fun and restful. Then we pick our girls up and the evening is spent having family time. They have gymnastics and ballet and we have dinner together as a family.
We don’t: answer any calls, texts, emails, video chats or post about anything that has to do with the church, blog, or my part-time job. We talk to and spend time with our family and that’s about it. We clock out completely. Clocking out on Mondays is what makes it possible for us to clock back in on Tuesday and go for the rest of the week.
The older we get, the more we understand how important the Sabbath is for our health. JM and I spend ourselves completely every day. This is a particularly crazy time. When we crawl into bed at night, we feel like we deserve it after all the day has brought. That’s what the Sabbath is. It is a day to set aside all of our responsibilities and be filled back up.
If we are going to be successful in cheerfully carrying light in this dark world, we are going to have to get serious about honoring the Sabbath. We have to make sure that after all of our pouring out, we take time to get filled back up.
Enjoy the gift of Sabbath. You deserve it!