When I hear the word “Sabbath” it sounds so formal and honestly, a little daunting. It has this hyper-religious ring to it that feels slightly impersonal and a bit stuffy for someone who doesn’t understand what it really means. This was me awhile ago. I didn’t “get” what it meant to observe the Sabbath, and it wasn’t until recently that our family began making the Sabbath something that we DO, and practice, as a family.
First let’s dive into what the Sabbath is. The definition of Sabbath is “a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jewish people from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday.”
In Exodus 20:8-11, keeping the Sabbath is actually stated as one of the Ten Commandments. It’s obviously something that is important to God if He made it one of the Big Ten.
It states, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 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, neigher you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
I will be the first to admit that stopping and resting is not easy for me to do. I think as women, wives, and mothers, we super-ladies have constant pressure to get stuff done! Whether that’s in our profession or around the house. This makes intentionally turning off that switch and allowing ourselves to rest, WAY hard! But it’s not something that God simply suggests for us to do. No, it’s a straight-up command!
And why would God command you to do something that feels completely against the grain of your nature? Because He loves you. He knows that we need to rest and He wants us to love Him in the process. He also desires that time to be about worship. He wants us to engage in dedicated, uninterrupted time directing our gaze up on our Lord, Creator, and Friend.
I know all of us could use a little more rest in our week, but I think the real issue with keeping the Sabbath is a trust issue. When our family first started being more intentional about this practice, I’ll be the first one to say that I struggled with trusting that everything would still get done. I mean seriously, between my day job and trying to keep the house picked up, laundry done, meals planned, etc. I couldn’t possibly afford to sit back and chill-ax while the To-Do list was screaming at me, right?
Well, that’s exactly what God wants you to do. It’s about TRUST. Do you trust Him enough to let all that go and put Him and His commands first? The Israelites had the same problem. In Exodus Chapter 16 Moses had led the recently freed people into the desert and they were complaining about not having enough food to eat. So God sent quail in the evening and manna in the morning. He commanded them to gather only what they needed for each day except on the sixth day, they were told to gather twice as much so they would have enough for the Sabbath. The people that tried to gather the manna on the seventh day went out and found none. Zero, zip. Nada.
This story really hit me because I often find myself not trusting that I can get everything done. But then I’m reminded that when I have this mindset I’m not having faith in what GOD can accomplish. I’m putting all my eggs in one basket, myself, and goodness knows my abilities are always lacking. So why put your faith in what only YOU can do instead of putting your faith in what the Creator of the Universe can do. I’m guessing He’s a little bit better at time management than we are. Just a hunch.
So sure, this all seems great but what does it practically look like for us? Last I checked, we weren’t living in a tent in the Sahara with no wi-fi gathering the morning pancakes from the ground in the backyard. Our lives look WAY different than the Israelites’ so what does the Sabbath look like for me? I think it may look different for every family, but I can tell you what we do.
We have chosen Sundays to be our Sabbath day. Beginning Saturday night and extending through Sunday evening my husband and I start with enacting “Cell-Free Sunday”. This means putting our cell phones on their chargers in our bedroom closet and leaving them there. Granted, if we feel we need to take them with us for safety purposes we do, but we’re not posting to our Instagram stories or checking email.
The second thing we do is worship. That’s either physically going to church or watching a service online. Even though we believe every day is the Lord’s day, being intentional about worshiping our amazing God, and filling our hearts with His word is SO important. Then we try to do something outside with our family. I am so grateful that my husband is an outdoorsy kinda guy. I love the outdoors too, but I can also be a homebody. He has been so good for me because he pushes us to get out and do fun activities together. Whether it’s hiking, biking, skiing, or just walking the dog, getting out into nature, being active, and connecting with God’s creation feels like worship to us. If getting outside isn’t an option, then board games, puzzles, or Legos are our go-to.
The other parameter that we set for ourselves on this day is refraining from doing any work that is income producing. That means detaching from our jobs and really taking this time to rest our brains.
This whole concept may seem so foreign to you, and I get that. I often struggle with feeling guilty if I’m not “working” or at least doing something productive. If that’s you too, take yourself off the hook, sister! Have peace knowing that God commanded you to rest. He knows what’s best for your body, your mental state, and your family. If HE rested after creating our world then you know it’s important to Him.
Practicing the Sabbath is exactly that for our family. It’s practice. I can’t say that we get it right every single week. It’s something we have to really work at. (Doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron!?) But it’s true. My flesh wants to be active and accomplish things, so I have to constantly be working on suppressing that urge. Some weeks we rock it! Others are epic fails. But I believe God honors our obedience and when we keep His day holy, He will more than make up for what we feel we “haven’t accomplished” in those 24 hours. He will bless our work that we do during the week, and will do immeasurably more than all we could hope or imagine!
So are you up for it?