Not all rest is created equal
The last few weeks Sabbath hasn’t felt as good.
If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that for the past four months our family has been making a new habit; that is the habit of keeping the Sabbath.
Each Friday night when the sun goes down we stop working, we stop doing dishes, and we generally only do the basic things we need to do to keep our kids and ourselves fed (which generally means microwaving leftovers).
Willy has taken to sometimes doing small house projects, which I know seems very anti-Sabbath, but since fixing things is something he truly enjoys doing, we allow it. Just as I am allowed to harvest things from the garden because it’s something I truly enjoy doing, and both of these are far enough from our daily grind of work as to be refreshing to our souls.
But you know what I realize we have been missing in our Sabbath’s lately?
When we first started doing Sabbath I was super intentional to make sure that it was a day that we figuratively “set a place for Jesus” at the table. Where we paid special attention to what He was doing in and through us. Where we looked around for all the opportunities to commune with him, either by reading the children a Bible story, or by dancing around to worship music, or by taking a family walk.
These past few weeks I feel like we’ve been working till we just can’t anymore. And Sabbath is our break from that work, but even the physical rest of sitting on the couch and letting the kids watch a movie is so far from being enough. We need Him.
What are you after?
Last week we were getting ready to go to a friend’s house. And as I was lacing up my three-year-old’s shoes he kept trying to figure out which friend it was, but instead of asking about the children in the family we were going to visit, he kept asking about the toys.
“Do they have a basement? Is it the one with the microwave? The kitchen? The toy vacuum?”
I confirmed for him that it was a house with a basement, AND the one with the toy microwave.
“YAY!!!” He said and smiled and started clapping his hands.
And while he was definitely being cute, and I was happy he was excited to go to a friend’s house, I could’t help but be disturbed by the fact that he was more excited about playing with his friends’ toys, than he was playing with his friends.
Until I realized that I have been doing that exact same thing.
The Lord of the Sabbath
The truth of the matter is that I can often approach the Sabbath the same way that my son approaches going to a friend’s house. I can be joyful, looking forward to it, etc. But if I’m just looking forward to Sabbath for the sake of the physical rest through the break from cooking and dishes; I’m going to be missing out. Though of course, those things are good and are even a piece of what God intended me to enjoy on the Sabbath, if I’m not also (and mainly) looking forward to spending time with Him, it’s never going to be enough.
Sabbath is one of God’s commands, not just so that we don’t wear out our bodies with physical exhaustion, or burn out our minds with mental tasks; but so that we will take that intentional time to reconnect with God and receive soul rest. I believe God wants us to be able to walk into the next day and the next week with a sense of rest and refreshment on the level of our Soul, that really can’t be experienced except in time with Him.
It’s worth noting that even before the fall, this was a part of our design. On the sixth day God created man, and on the seventh, he rested, and not alone, but with the man he had made. It’s important to remember that God doesn’t tell us to spend time with Him as some sort of make-shift addendum for the exhaustion of living in a sin-filled world, but that it was likely always a need we had, before we had many others.
Maybe for many of you, if you practice the Sabbath on the day you go to church, this is a much more natural connection. But thus far, we have been practicing Sabbath on Saturdays and so I feel we need to fight a little harder than we have been to be intentional about our rest. I want to make sure that we are truly receiving the rest we can only get from Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath.
Set Him a Place
It seems totally counter intuitive, to feel like we have to purposely make room for our omnipresent Lord. But because we know that Satan’s ambition is to destroy every good thing, I think for our own family, we have to fight that default of collapsing into less-significant rest with a specific kind of intentionality. So this weekend; I’m going to set Him an ACTUAL place.
When we sit down for dinner Friday night, I’ll leave a place for Him at the table. And when I wake Saturday morning, I pray my first thought will be of my need for Him, and my joy in His goodness to give us the Sabbath as an inheritance. As the day goes on, I want to visualize Him sitting on the couch next to me or walking down the street besides me. As cooky as these things sound (even to the person typing them) I know I don’t honestly live most of my days like Jesus is right here with me.
But He is. Maybe Sabbath is my chance to act like He’s with me enough to plan for Him like I would for an honored guest. To extend hospitality to Him by saying, “I see you. You are here with me, and I’m so GLAD you are here.”
Together, let us love the giver of the gifts more than the gifts themselves. Let us enjoy the gift of the Sabbath by fully embracing the rest it brings us from the physical and mental stressors of everyday life, while also embracing the rest our souls will only find in Him.