My wife and I recently attended a seminar at church. We arrived a little late due to the distance we traveled to get there, so we sat towards the back of the room. As we sat and listened to the facilitator, I was amused at what I saw around the room as he spoke. The topic of the session was Sabbath. And what I saw evidently didn’t resonate with many of those in the room. As the leader shared the meaning, importance, and value of a God-designed Sabbath in our lives, many were talking, scrolling through emails on their phones, and some just seemed so busy they simply got up and left the room.
Sabbath. Our lives have become so busy that we don’t take the time to even recognize our need for it.
Smartphones, social media, schedules, commitments and obligations seem to be the driving force in our lives and dictate the pace by which our lives are lived. Notifications, emails, and texts set the tone for our day and we can’t seem to turn them off to rest, even for a day. What does it take for us to just say, “stop!”? Most of our lives seem to be lived in crisis mode.
The Bible gives rather clear instructions about Sabbath. We were designed to both work and to rest. And that rest is what we usually have a hard time doing. Rest just doesn’t seem productive. Not much is accomplished by stepping away from the frantic pace of life to just “be.” I like what the facilitator said about this. He said we have ceased to be human “beings” and have become human “doings.” When was the last time you pulled aside and rested? No distractions. No interruptions. Probably not too recently, if you’re like me.
The prophet Isaiah wrote the words of God regarding this idea of Sabbath. He said, “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth…”
The problem is that we as humans have created all kinds of things to distract us from this command to rest. And returning to true Sabbath seems almost impossible. But it can happen. For you and for me. What does it take? Intentionality. It takes making the choice to say “no” on a regular basis to those distractions, the busyness of life, and the obligations. It means that some things can wait until Sabbath is over. It means turning off the notifications for every email and text that arrives. And it may involve an initial misunderstanding from those closest to you, until they accept that you are on Sabbath and their “important” text can wait until tomorrow.
Sabbath means to cease. We must cease the busyness of everyday life to experience true Sabbath rest. And, according to God, it is the path to our delight in Him. So cease! Rest! Life will still be going on tomorrow.
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