For years my understanding of Sabbath was to sit at home, no work, no fun, read and pray all day...so of course, I told myself, “I can’t do that!” …who could?!
For 15 years I’ve been listening to Pastor Marty encourage us to take a day to rest. Hearing how he took Mondays off to do “nothing”. “Well, that’s good for you PM, but most of us regular people can’t take Monday off or any other day for that matter.”
So Sabbath was not a part of my life. But I did convince myself that I was taking a time of “rest” …on Sundays! After all, serving at church isn’t work, right? I attended first service, served in second service with our UTURN youth, then of course there were occasional “ministry” meetings after church, and BY 3 or 4 p.m. I’d get home...to “rest.” I’d be out 2, 3, and even 4 times a week...doing ministry, and again, convincing myself that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and since I wasn’t “burning out,” I must be getting enough rest.
About 4 years ago, Pastor Ricky asked me to help him lead S.A.L.T. (Student Action Leadership Team). When we got together, we would encourage our teens to Sabbath. That’s when the struggle really started; how could I ask them to do something I wasn’t doing? I still didn’t have a Monday to rest, so I decided to take half a day on Saturday instead. This worked for a while until my Saturday morning runs were interfering with my Saturday morning time with the Lord.
During this same time, I discovered the extrovert in me was taking a back seat to a newly born introvert. The busyness in my life was starting to take a toll on me...literally draining the life out of me. After some time with the Lord, I heard Him give me some clear direction.
My Sabbath would be Saturday… ALL DAY! Ummm, ok, I can do that, I think. No, wait it’s not that easy. Devoting a whole day to rest could maybe happen... but what about all the things I have to do? What about the housework? The yard work? The appointments? What about running? And lunch dates? Parties? God’s answer was simple: “No have-to’s”.
If the words, “I have to”, “I’ve got to”, or “I need to” are said...I don’t do it! This was very hard at first, but now I have learned to submit to the Lord’s direction, and be obedient to rest. Running is very spiritual for me. It’s a time to think, pray, reflect, and sometimes, simply listen to music and just run. Working in my yard is a time God speaks to me. Sabbath has become a restful, peaceful, and I can actually say “fun” day for me now.
It’s been a learning experience, but I can say today I take a Saturday Sabbath, no "have-to’s", only doing what “feeds” me. I spend quiet time in the morning, go for my run or hike. Sometimes I work in the yard...because I actually like to do that. I lay in my hammock and read or just listen to the birds...I know, sounds kinda corny, but I have grown to crave the time alone, to just stop and do nothing unless I want to. I don’t do anything unless it feeds my soul. This includes going to a party, visiting a friend, and sometimes it even includes a little housework (but not too often).
What’s the result? Now, my life “looks” busy; S.A.L.T. meetings, Community Group, Growth Group, walking and running, church services, and time with friends. But the difference in my life now is I don’t say YES to things to fill a need. I say YES to what I believe God is calling me to do. I also make sure I balance where I am pouring out and where I’m filling up. I couldn’t do this without learning how to Sabbath, to really stop and devote time to rest.
Challenge yourself...take a day where the only “have to-do” is what you “want to-do” …only what feeds your soul! Trust God at His own word. I promise, you will see the time you give Him multiplied back to you for His purposes.