Nap time – or rest time as we called it in our house, because it didn’t always involve sleep and to presume it would may have been cause for protest – with a 12, 10 and 7 year old, is a thing of our past. I miss it. The quiet. The peace. The time set aside each day to stop all activity. It was a boundary we set up for ourselves, which could have seemed restrictive, as we most often had to schedule our appointments and activities around it. Yet, it gave us freedom to keep that space sacred and we generally felt better because of it.
This, I’m finding, is much like what Sabbath was intended to be. A boundary, yes. But, also a gift of freedom. Of margin. An invitation to keep sacred space.
“Keep the Sabbath [day] holy. Don’t pursue your own interests…but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do…and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Isaiah 58:13-14)
The concept of Sabbath has always fascinated me. This idea of rest. As a busy mom of three, part-time educational professional, wife, ministry leader and whatever other title those “other duties as assigned” bestow upon me, I have often wondered what Sabbath would look like for me. And, how I would find the time to actually live it out effectively.
Instead of making it a sacred space, which would bring me greater joy in life, I was using it as an escape from my life.
As I started to explore the idea of Sabbath and experimented with it over several months, what began as making more time for God, gradually became distorted. The result was time that did not look like pause and reflection, but rather relaxation and idleness. Instead of being a slave to my schedule and to the busyness that had previously plagued me, I became enslaved by the need for lazy, frivolous time and brainless activity. I craved time for me. It became habitual. It was almost as if I did everything in my power to get, see and experience that “me” time. Yet, the more I did it, the less fulfilling it became. Instead of making it a sacred space, which would bring me greater joy in life, I was using it as an escape from my life.
I recently completed Priscilla Shirer’s study, Breathe, which focuses on the principle of the Sabbath. Through it I was convicted about my habit of using relaxation as rest. While I believe that taking time for my own self-care is important, I had become a slave to it and it was distracting me from time with God and from my family. What I discovered through study and reflection was that I needed to seek wisdom from God about how to find time for the things I enjoy – with limits.
“Sabbath margin is the boundary God intended for us to place around the things we enjoy so that we’ll never be a slave to anyone or anything other than him.” Priscilla Shirer, Breathe
In the Garden of Gethsemane, just prior to his impending death, Jesus spoke these words to God,
“Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Mark 14:36)
At the feet of his Father was the only place Jesus could go to receive what he needed for the journey ahead. In this prayer, the words Abba, Father reveal God’s role as caregiver, but also as the authority. Jesus knew that God cared enough about him to spare his life. However, he also knew that God had the final say and would do what was best, in light of eternity.
What I discovered through study and reflection was that I needed to seek wisdom from God about how to find time for the things I enjoy – with limits.
Sabbath is our opportunity to sit at the Father’s feet. To discover what is right for our spirit, not just what feels best in the moment. It is our way of recognizing God’s sovereignty in our lives.
Are you prepared to stand in the space of Sabbath with God, so that you may experience rest in him? If so, the invitation has been given. Accept it, so that you may make the exchange between a mind and body of someone who is enslaved to a Spirit that is truly free!
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