We have a tendency to think we can do better by doing more, and we work hard to squeeze as much productivity as we can into each day. When we refuse the grace of rest offered to us in a Sabbath, I wonder, do we consign ourselves to anxious, driven lives?
Our culture seems to have an endless craving for seminars that are excellence and purpose driven. It is interesting to me that the Bible likens us to sheep, which are led rather than driven. Are we so driven and focused that we can’t see when the Lord is leading us to rest in Him “Only in stopping, really stopping, do we teach our hearts and souls that we are loved apart from what we do,” Lynne Baab. We do not realize in all our business that we are shutting out the voice of God who tells us that we are loved.
God knows how He made us and that we need to slow down to know and remember whose we are. Keeping the Sabbath means putting our faith and hope in God above everything else. God graciously knows that we need to take time to stop, so He leads us by commanding us to take a Sabbath.
Sabbath is a gift to nurture our relationship with God¸ our deeper selves, and all our relationships. Trust in God is the heartbeat of the Sabbath and the bedrock of soul rest. Does God make Sabbath a commandment because we need rest and He knows how much we struggle to rest? Do we think that God is pleased by our exhaustion or that the fewer days we take off and the busier we are the more faithful servants we must be?
Are we busy because we are trying to do everything on our own independent from God? God wants us walking in dependent trust upon Him not in self-sufficiency. When we neglect Sabbath rest as a life-sustaining rhythm, we risk damaging ourselves, our relationships, and our intimacy with God.
Eugene Peterson gives evidence to the need for Sabbath-keeping as the “Deuteronomy reason.” He says, “Our ancestors in Egypt went four hundred years without a vacation (Deuteronomy 5:15). Never a day off…Not persons created in the image of God but equipment for making bricks and building pyramids. Humanity was defaced. The moment we begin to see others in terms of what they can do rather than who they are, we mutilate humanity and violate community… Sabbath-keeping is elemental kindness,” (Rhythms of Grace).
In her book, A Day of Rest, Martha Whitmore Hickman observes, “Sabbath is also a celebration of deliverance from oppression… All are to rest, not just the rulers, and the privileged few.” Hickman also points out an important truth, “In our harried, fragmented world rest has to be a conscious decision…implemented by certain changes of mind-set and planning, or we will bring to our periods of supposed rest the same preoccupations and concerns that permeate much of our weekday activity.”
Here are a few possibilities for changing our hurried mindsets:
• Consider how much of your thinking is shaped by worldly ideals that make productivity, achievement, and success the primary sources of your validation and identity.
• Embrace your deeper desire for the humility of Christ.
• Give yourself permission to carve our regular Sabbath time. Aim for a life of balance, spiritual grounding, and inward peace, likened to the rhythm Jesus himself embodied.