12 Keep the Sabbath day and treat it as holy, exactly as the Lord your God commanded: 13 Six days you may work and do all your tasks, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Don’t do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your oxen or donkeys or any of your animals, or the immigrant who is living among you—so that your male and female servants can rest just like you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That’s why the Lord your God commands you to keep the Sabbath day.
Sometimes I wonder why the commandment of Sabbath is so difficult to keep.
Not making graven images of God? Got it.
Saying “oh my goodness”? Nailed it.
Not stealing? I’m rockin’ this.
Taking an entire 24 hours off? Um…I don’t really have time for that.
We live in a society that values overworking, shames the use of vacation time, and has increasing levels of anxiety and depression. In Deuteronomy’s explanation of Sabbath, it is presented as a way of serving God. We serve God by creating healthy boundaries in our life. As images of God, we reflect God’s own act of doing the work, then resting and enjoying the product of our work.
When at seminary, I took a class at the “Farminary” where we tended for the earth to learn about caring for ourselves and for our congregations. Sabbath time was a weekly homework assignment. The professor explained it along the lines of Sabbath being a gift from God, and though we may find it difficult among our studies and jobs to find time to properly rest, we should be intentional about carving that time out if we don’t want to get burnt out in ministry before we even really begin. To fulfill the assignment, we didn’t have to prove that we took a full day off. We were encouraged to start with at least 30 real minutes of Sabbath a week – where we weren’t thinking about what we needed to get done later. The hope was we would feel encouraged to increase the amount of time.
I still struggle with honoring Sabbath time; I have a brain that likes to plan and organize at all times. By adjusting my lens from seeing Sabbath as another task to a gift has helped. Sabbath may not be a full day where I don’t check my email, but it may be taking the time each morning to drink my coffee on the back porch without my phone. And to think, that that is actually a way to serve the Lord.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
What has Sabbath looked like in your practice? Where can you find 30 minutes of Sabbath in your week?
Prayer: Holy Lord, we thank you for your example of rest. Forgive us that we have not always honored your kind gift and encourage us to deepen this practice in our lives. Amen.