Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Modern-Day Sabbath Rest

Aren't Sundays wonderful, really? You get to have a peaceful, relaxing, quiet morning with your husband and children, and then calmly get yourself and the kids ready, dressed in their Sunday best; the clothes stay crisp and clean through breakfast and everyone arrives early to church in great moods. What, this doesn't happen at your house? Oh wait, mine neither! But despite our shortcomings and the stress of getting there, attending a Bible-believing church and fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ always refreshes my Spirit.

While observing the Sabbath rest in its strict sense is no longer required since we are under grace, it is still a command of God and just in general, a good idea. You've probably come across studies that find taking time for leisure is good for your heart, good for your relationships, good for your mind, good for your spirit. God knew that. That's why He said, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work..." (Exodus 20:9,10) As Jesus Himself said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27)

So the question I want to explore is--what does observing the Sabbath or taking a Sabbath rest look like in your home? As I write this, my husband is out mowing the lawn--definitely taboo according to the way I was raised. Many in my family of origin would never dare to eat out on a Sunday because that caused others to work. Movies, the mall? No way. Some friends said they couldn't even ride their bikes on Sundays. Hmmm....

Think of how often Jesus--the Fulfiller of the Law--offended the "experts of God's law" in his day. Those experts of the law are still around today, aren't they? You can't do this on Sunday, you can't do that. On the opposite extreme are those who fail to observe any kind of a Sabbath rest at all, and they miss out--their spirit misses out--because of it. (For the record, we ran to the mall and also out to eat after church today, but I didn't find it restful for my spirit at all and it won't be a common occurence in our family).

I read once that the Puritans worked hard to clean their houses and do all their meal preparations on Saturday so they could rest and enjoy the day Sunday. This appeals to me. Something rejuvenating happens in your spirit when you deliberately don't do what duty tells you to do. Like dishes:) But the freedom to enjoy the leisure comes because you know you are not being lazy; you have worked hard all week and you have earned the right to rest from your labor, and you know that God Himself ordains this rest and blesses it should you choose to observe it.

So how do you observe the Sabbath rest? Generally I try to go light on cooking and dishes (which I fall behind on during the week anyway!); I avoid doing laundry; I try not to go to the grocery store (although it would be convenient since my husband is home and I could go without kids, but there's Saturday, right?); I don't pick up the house much, which makes for a very messy Monday, but hey.

So what do we do with all that extra leisure time? We have time to have more extended phone conversations with our parents and siblings. We try to go for a bike ride or a family walk. Sometimes we take naps. (Usually this is interrupted or prevented altogether by the little people we call our children!) :) We can extend hospitality to those in need (sometimes even just listening and talking to a lonely neighbor who you may not have much time for during a busy week). I think the point Jesus made was to be sure to spend time with God. Worship. Read. Pray. Then spend time with others--your family, your friends, those who need your help. And don't forget to spend some solitary time refreshing your own spirit and fueling up in the Lord for your week ahead. I think taking a Sabbath rest is where you find that strength. (And the Holy Spirit refuels you throughout the week as you read God's Word and pray).

I'm done; it's your turn! I would love to hear what you do and don't do on the Sabbath, and why. Blessings for the week ahead!


  1. Personally, I like to go light on the changing diapers, disciplining the children, cooking, picking up afer myself, and anything else I can't just have my wife do for me on Sunday.

    ha ha

    It's funny but you described the way we feel about the Sabbath at my house. Oh wait. That's because we're married huh?

    Yes I mowed the lawn, then I changed the oil in the mini-van, and now I'm chillin. I think it's most difficult to rest the way you would really like to when you have little kids around because they still fight with each other and get themselves into messes that you have to bail them out all the time.

    Jsus says in Luke 14:5, "Which on of you, having a son (a donkey) or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?"

    Son, ox, donkey; they are similar in a lot of ways aren't they?

  2. very funny there Justin! Thanks for being so loyal :)