Lately, I have been fighting restlessness with activity. I hate having a weekend come and go, only to feel as though I didn’t use the time wisely. From errands to household chores, blogging to letter writing, there always seem to be more things I want to do than I can fit in. But I love to have a good list to cross things off from. If I don’t finish the list, it becomes the beginning of the next weekend’s list. Since I haven’t been going to services for a several months, Sunday mornings have become a favorite time to exercise, work in my garden, or do household cleaning. I am starting to feel the effects of this busyness, and I am questioning my priorities.
After a couple of weeks of pondering, I opened my Bible to gain further instruction about the Sabbath. I know that when God established the Sabbath, it wasn’t about attending worship services; it has always been about man’s need to rest. It is difficult to see in our culture, but it takes faith to rest. Several years back, there was a period when I heard a lot about the topic of rest, but I felt out-of-touch with the perspective that it came from. The teaching was focused on taking a break from the busyness of our daily lives, but my life wasn’t busy, at all. On the contrary, I felt God telling me that I wasn’t doing enough. I have become more productive, I think, but I still don’t consider my life to be busy. There is a lot I want to do, but I don’t have many actual commitments. Either way, I know that I need rest: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) I have to fight the anxiety I have when I perceive myself to be idle. Yet, rest need not be idleness. Sabbath rest isn’t lazily frittering away time; it is time that work is stopped in order to purposefully focus on God.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
I have written on many occasions that our time is a commodity just like our money. God has convicted me very clearly on this point, showing me my tendency to give Him my leftover time, instead of the first-fruits. Now He is showing me that I am not making Him a priority on my weekends. The New Testament describes clearly that the Jewish leaders had turned the Sabbath into a burden for the people, and Jesus spoke against this. God does not want us to be burdened with legalism. Jesus offers us an easy yoke and a light burden. Since we are not under the law, we should not allow ourselves to get bogged down with rules about how we spend our time on a given day. But we should remember that God established Sabbath well before the law, when He chose to take the seventh day for rest after creating the universe.
God is not as concerned with what day of the week we choose, as He is with our taking the time to seek Him. It requires faith to cease striving and focus on communion with Him. God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness to gather twice as much manna on Fridays, and it would not spoil over the Sabbath. Similarly, God will provide for our needs when we set aside time for Him. This faith aspect is not always as clear to us, since our culture revolves around five-day work weeks. But even when we aren’t engaged in working for our livelihood, we often fill our days off with the tasks we can’t fit into our schedules the rest of the week. God wants us to set some of that time aside for Him, and trust that our to-do lists will survive the sacrifice.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.
Friday afternoon, I was exhausted and felt at the end of my rope. A situation had come up at work that had knocked the wind out of me, and even after it was resolved, my mood couldn’t recover. So, I started this weekend feeling overwhelmed by everything I feel like I need to accomplish. I realized that in my struggling, I wasn’t turning to prayer. It was a few hours after the issue arose, on Friday, that I realized my neglect of prayer and finally gave the issue over to God. I am not including Him in my life the way I should be. This underscored my need to devote more time to Him.
Resting in God, communing and communicating with Him, is another way to recharge myself on the weekends. Deepening the relationship with Him allows Him to restore my mental and spiritual energy for the battles ahead. I am not sure how I am going to implement a new Sabbath protocol, but I have some ideas. I will begin by keeping my Sunday to-do list down to the bare minimum. Secondly, I want to devote at least a couple of hours to reading and studying the Bible, prayer, and meditation. This could be challenging, but I believe I will be happier if I can discipline myself to enjoy Sabbath rest with God.