Cultivating Sabbath Rest – Disciplines of the Faith
Intentionally taking time to honor the Sabbath, to keep it holy, and to practice Sabbath rest is an important discipline of our faith. Often, we think of it as a luxury or an optional part of our week but God prioritized it right along with “Do Not Murder” and “Do Not Commit Adultery” so it must matter a lot more than we credit it with. Sabbath rest is a gift, but it’s one we have to fight for and guard.
We live in a busy day. The ever-advancing technology only seems to chain us to an ever present desk. There’s always something to do, some way we need to be a multitasker, someone or something clamoring for our attention.
But we are called to stop, on the Sabbath, and rest from our work. Sunday is not a day to catch-up or to prepare for the week, it is a day to rest. I am as guilty as the next person in viewing Sunday as a day to do different work. I struggle to truly cease from the work and simply worship and enjoy the day that God has made.
We are busy. There is work to be done. Work for ourselves and work for the Lord. But even God, who never sleeps, rested on the Seventh Day of Creation and has commanded that we do the same.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:9-11, ESV
We can rest from our work, because the work is not dependent on us. How prideful is it that we constantly think we are too busy, too critical to rest?
Faithfulness to the work God has given us is crucial. God has asked for workers to rise up and harvest the fields. But ultimately, the work is up to Him. Our best efforts are still not enough, we must trust in God to finish the work.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep. – Psalm 127:1-2, ESV
Our work is nothing without God’s work.
It relies on Him completely. He gifts us with rest and establishes our plan. We can rest because we can trust that God is carrying our burdens, establishing our work, and protecting our lives.
We can also rest because it reminds us of our victory. Rest is an act of defiance against our enemy, Satan. When we rest, we revel in our victory over Death. We realize that the work on behalf of our salvation, the work that restored our relationship with God, is finished. There is no more striving, the ultimate victory is one. Taking time on the Sabbath shows trust that God has completed the work and shows our surrender to and dependence on Him.Our work is nothing without God’s work. Click To Tweet
God rested and proclaimed His Creation good.
We echo this when we stop to enjoy Creation as He did. We enjoy the work of His hands and imitate His example when we survey the work of our hands and rest from our labor.
So on the Sabbath, survey your week. Recognize your victories and give thanks to God, the Giver of all good things. Let this be a day of enjoyment in what is done, not in fretting or anxiously planning for the week to come.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:33-34, ESV
What would the impact be on your mental health if you weekly, took stock of what God has allowed you to accomplish in your work and gave thanks?
Our lives need to follow Christ’s example. We need to pick up our cross and carry one another’s burdens. Instead of seeking to be served, we need to serve. But on the Sabbath, we need to rest.
Instead of filling our lives with busyness, let’s fill our Sabbath with loveliness.
Let’s be radically counter-cultural, and avoid prepping for the week to come, getting in that last minute shopping, or working on our to-do list.
What would our weeks look like if we took seriously the call to rest on the Sabbath? Would we be more invigorated in our work the other 6 days of the week? Would we enjoy deeper community if we could spontaneously invite a friend to join us for dinner and games after church because we’ve already carved out that time?What would the impact be on your mental health if you weekly, took stock of what God has allowed you to accomplish in your work and gave thanks? Click To Tweet
Find what fills your heart, what energizes you and helps you to find deeper enjoyment in God and His Creation, and pursue that. It may change from week to week, but set aside time, set aside the day, as holy and different from the others.
Here are a few resources to explore as you begin regularly practicing Sabbath rest:
If you enjoyed this post, read 5 Ways to Practice Sabbath Rest