It’s Not a Day Off

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Sabbath is an every week, 52 week a year event we should do regardless of the season or the day because it’s a gift, not a chore.  This article was to be on the topic of how to Sabbath in the summer, it’s as if because it’s summer we can finally Sabbath, or because it’s summer, we won’t have a Sabbath.  Let’s change this thinking –

A couple summers ago, our young adults went to the Bahamas for our mission trip.  We arrived on a Saturday evening and spent time settling into our hotel, getting to know our leader, Rick, and the other church that was there.  On Sunday morning, we all got around and headed to Rick’s new church plant. It’s called Da Spot. It’s a small store front in the middle of a neighborhood that needs Jesus.  We stuffed all of us into this tiny space with the neighborhood people and had church.  I don’t think I’ve ever been that hot just sitting.  Anyway, after church we came back to our hotel and had lunch.  After lunch Rick told us to enjoy your day and he’d be back with dinner around 6.  I thought – What?  Rick could tell I was unsettled about this.  We were on a mission trip, we didn’t do nothing….did we?  When I came out of my room, Rick was waiting for me.  He said, “Betsy, it’s the Sabbath.  Rest.  When’s the last time you took time to rest?  Enjoy your day and your team.”    Laying by a pool in the Bahamas on a Sunday afternoon felt a bit wrong because we were on a mission trip – yet time to rest in Jesus was very, very right.  Why would we not observe a Sabbath no matter where we are?  But…many of us don’t.

A day of rest.  Like, a whole day!  Like many of you, I have things to do, places to be, people to invest in.  We feel like we have to use every second, especially in summer while students are out of school, to do ministry and be available.  But, Jesus saved the entire world and he took a Sabbath.

We need a Sabbath.  The Sabbath was meant to be a blessing, a time to refresh, rest.  Exodus 16:28 -29  “The Lord asked Moses, ‘How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you.’” We’ve made it a burden or guilt thing, like – do I have to? I really can’t because…it can even turn into a jealousy thing – like how come you get to rest?

As I’m being straight up, it starts by deciding what you believe about the Sabbath.  Seriously, what do you believe about it?  The bottom line is this: If you really don’t think this its important, you won’t adjust life for it.   God created six days and at the end of each one he said, “It was good”.  And after he made Eve, he said, “very good”.  But after he created the Sabbath – he made it holy.  A special day that is blessed.

Exodus 31:13-14 says “Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. You must keep the Sabbath day, for it is a holy day for you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community.”

We know from the gospels that Jesus observed the Sabbath and valued rest.   There were so many people coming and going…Jesus said to his disciples, “let us go off by ourselves to a quiet place and you can rest for a while.” Mark 6:31

Paul spoke to the value of the day over a specific day. Romans 14:5-6 “In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him.”

The core of faith is not holy days or rules – it’s Jesus.  The Sabbath isn’t a litmus test of your spiritual life- it is simply a means to create space to live healthy and know God deeply.  If we believe this to be true, then we need to do it summer, fall, winter and spring.  Rick Warren was asked how he maintains health and longevity in the midst of a large, demanding ministry.  He gave the following three things that make a lot of sense.

Divert Daily:  What kinds of things bring you “life”?  What re-energizes you?  Do them.  Work is good but the purpose of work is not more work.  The purpose of work is to live and glorify God.  God wants you to enjoy your life, what if you took time each day to reenergize and enjoy it? Have you ever thought that your reluctance to rest is a lack of trust?  Take time each day to breathe.

Withdraw Weekly – God said, “You have six days in which to do your work.”  God created a 24/6 world on purpose.  It’s a Stop Day.

What does a day of rest look like for you?

What is the most challenging for you to stop for 24 hours?

Taking a Sabbath is on equal footing with don’t commit adultery or murder. We wouldn’t think that those commandments don’t apply today, yet what about this 4th one? We often live as if this commandment is irrelevant today. It’s not a day off – it’s a Sabbath.  If you call it a day off- you’ll break it or use it differently.  A Sabbath is a day for personal time, family time, fellowship, rest.  Whatever is not work for you, that’s what it’s about.  This isn’t a day for chores, email, or one more “honey do” item.

“If we wish to have a weekly day of rest, it will no longer happen as a societal default.  It will happen only as a result of a conscious choice.”  (24/6: Matthew Sleeth)  Withdrawing weekly has to be a choice that we prepare for, expect, look forward to, and enjoy.  The actual day of the week isn’t as important as consistently practicing the rhythm of work and rest.    Can you trust God with your time?

Abandon Annually – Are you weary?  Is your soul tired?  I invite you to rest.  Rest in Christ.  Trust him to provide on the 7th day, allow him space to speak.  For many of you, you know this.  You believe a Sabbath is important and even healthy for your physical, emotional, and spiritual life.  The challenge isn’t knowledge of the need for rest or the importance of a Sabbath day – the challenge is obedience.

Many people think they just can’t get away, but in reality the world will go on while you’re gone.  In fact, it’ll be just fine and you’ll be better for having taken the time to refresh and renew.  We need extended time in rest at least once year – not just rest but in Sabbath.  I can honestly say that abandoning annually changed my life and I’ve become pretty passionate about taking Sabbath – can you tell?

Have you ever taken extended time to just “be” with God?  What if you did?

It’s amazing what God can do when we rest in Him, it is a blessing just waiting to be given. Summer offers us a change to grab this.  Get out your calendar, find a few days, set them aside, and be with Jesus.  If you can’t find a few days, that should tell you something.  God invites us to rest.  It is holy.  It is a gift. It is an act of trust and obedience. It brings freedom and restoration.  It is blessed.  May you live from a heart at rest.

Now. Take a deep breath, let it out.  Let your mind rest.  Let your heart rest.

Be still and know that I am God  

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know that I

Be still and know that

Be still and know

Be still and

Be still

Be

Ps. 46:10

Take a Sabbath, you can do it!

 

Resource: 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth

 

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Betsy has worked with students for over 24 years and has served at Cornerstone Church in Caledonia, MI for nineteen of those years. Currently, Betsy is the Director of Family Ministry while still holding the high school ministry hat. Betsy also teaches women’s ministry at Grace Bible College as an adjunct professor. Betsy has been married for 27 years with a son in college and daughter in high school. In her free time, she enjoys reading, laughing with her family, and date nights!

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