“Maybe what we all need most is time to process what we already know that we can put it together differently, even more effectively than ever before. Maybe we need to think a bit, out on a porch in a summer breeze, down by the creek when the trout are running, back in the garden when it’s time to put the beet and beans in again.
Turn off the television and read a good book. Quit texting and ride your bike. Close the computer and go to a movie. Don’t’ answer any emails. Don’t try to ‘get ahead’. Don’t’ take any callback. And during the family dinner, turn off the phone. And when the television is on, watch it instead of talking through it. Reclaim your life, your thoughts, your personality, your friends, your family.
No, the world will not end. And no, the rest of the staff will not get ahead of you. They’ll be too tired to even think about catching up. It’s time to sleep in like you did in the good old days. Have a late breakfast. Read the newspapers all day long. Call some friends in for a game of pinochle. And then, on Monday, go back to work – having really gotten away from it all – feeling like what you have to do is really worth doing. As Ashleigh Brilliant says, ‘Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is to take a complete rest.” – Joan Chittister
On Sunday we shared about Sabbath. You’ll be able to download the sermon here. I shared about how the very first thing that God calls holy is the Sabbath. He declares that it is special. It is to be set aside and not used in an ordinary way. The point isn’t to become legalistic about Sabbath but to enter into the beauty and art of it. Abraham Joshua Heschel writes that “Labor is a craft but perfect rest is an art”. This is why trying to approach keeping the Sabbath from a perspective of rules always fails. It’s like trying to paint a beautiful piece of art through using a paint-by-numbers approach. The point is that appreciating the holiness, beauty, and gift of Sabbath is more of an art-form and less of a list of rules to keep.
So my goal yesterday was to inspire us to take a Sabbath. In Exodus 20:8 we read that for six days you will work and complete all your work. As I mentioned, no one ever completes all their work in 6 days. The point is that when we come to the seventh day, the Sabbath, we rest as if all the work has been completed. We leave it up to God and enter into the day. We seek to practice the art of keeping Sabbath.
So my question to you is what helps you to practice the art of Sabbath? What makes the day special for you and helps you to accept the gift it is?
For me Sabbath keeping is all about trust. It’s about trusting God to take care of all that needs to be taken care of. I trust him that he cares for his church, his people, and for my family. I slow down and have good meals, good conversation, and good connections with friends.
For you though what helps you mark a day as special?
Adult Discussion Questions: What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? What makes you feel really rested? How have you felt – when you didn’t rest? What about this sermon inspires you to take time? When can you take a moment to rest and truly “Sabbath”?
Questions for Young Families: Rather than talking about Sabbath take one with your kids. Talk to them how you are going to put away work and be present with them for the day. Share with them why its important and then do it together.
Challenge for the Week: Take a Sabbath
As Christians, learning to rest and connect with God should be something that is a part of our weekly rhythm, but often it’s not. Often our lives are hurried, rushed, and even frantic. We have emails, meetings, kids classes to take, and an effort to eat healthy. All of this can leave us feeling drained and down before we even come to take a rest.
So on Sunday I want to explore not why we should rest. I think we all know that it’s healthy to rest. Simply work 7 days a week for 6 months and see how you feel after that. The point isn’t why we need to, but how we might rest.
This is what I want to explore on Sunday, how the practice of Sabbath can actually drive our relationship with God and others deeper. I want to seek to share with you how you might start to rest and relax. I want to discover a surprising reality that the very first thing that is called holy isn’t a thing at all, but a period of time.
But why wait to start taking a Sabbath till we’ve talked about it Sunday. Why not start this weekend? Plan out a time to rest and relax. What is it that really helps you to slow down and connect?
For me I’m planning a lovely late Friday night meal with my amazing wife, once Hudson has gone to bed. We’ll talk and sip some fancy soda’s given to us from the church, talk, and reflect. And then have a late night cup of coffee.
This is my plan, but for you – is resting important enough to actually plan? Is it something you hope to do? Or something you must do? Because what we’ll understand on Sunday is that Sabbath is a gift – a gift though you have to choose to receive…
Resting is so hard. At first glance, resting seems easy doesn’t it. You just sit back on your couch, grab some food and a drink, and watch some reality TV. There you’re resting…But is this truly resting?
I think that truly resting, soul-resting, “sabbathing” is much more difficult.
This is the type of rest that isn’t a result of exhaustion, but actually re-energizes you. This type of rest isn’t just about zoning out for an hour, but being aware of all the gift and grace around you. This type of rest isn’t just about not looking at emails, but mentally and emotionally leaving behind all the work baggage as well. This type of rest is spiritual, it is deep, it is important, and it is actually ordered and modeled by God in the Bible. We aren’t supposed to just work, create, and seek progress. We are called to reflect, to pause, and to truly rest. This type of rest isn’t easy but it is not only worthwhile, it is Godly.
Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “Labor is a craft, but perfect rest is an art”
And later this week I’m going to try to perfect that art. I’m going away for a vacation, a sabbath time. Next week for me won’t be about zoning out for a night, but really “zoning into” connecting with my son, my family, and most of all, with God. I’m going to put away my distractions, my emails, and I won’t be blogging and instead I’m going to intentionally seek to create space in both my thoughts and life to connect with my God and my family.
This type of rest is hard, but this is the type of rest that matters. It’s an art worth perfecting because I don’t want to be a pastor, a father, a husband, or a friend for the short-term. I want to be a close friend, committed pastor, loving husband, and connected father for a lifetime. Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a long haul. So I will pause, reflect, and rest. The truth is I try to work very hard, and put a lot of effort into my calling. But what type of model would I be for my son, my church, my friends, if I didn’t put that same type of effort into resting, connecting, and reflecting?
So before I get away I have a simple question for you: are you resting? The true deep type of rest I’ve been talking about. Are you taking a sabbath weekly? Are you slowing down to appreciate all you have? Does your life show that you value life / family / and friends or work most? These are hard questions, but important ones, because as Christians we are to look and act like Jesus and God. In this case that means resting.
So this week take a day and perfect the art of sabbath, of resting. Work at it. And I’ll be doing the same…