We were chatting with our Rwandan friend who stays very active in helping the local church. VERY active. I knew Joel had been reading a book about Sabbath and so I asked our friend if he was observing the Sabbath in some way. He laughed. We laughed. “It is one of the ten commandments.” Joel’s quiet statement hung in the air. Really? I mean, yeah, I know, really, but REALLY? Why is that a command? God only gave us ten. Do not lie, don’t kill, don’t steal…and give God a day each week.
Our family goes to church on Sunday and we don’t go to work or school. Am I keeping the Sabbath? I decided it was time to read Joel’s Sabbath book (which was first recommended by the McCropders), Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva J. Dawn. The command to observe the Sabbath is the command to come home once a week. Back to meaning, to relationship, back to Daddy. WHY? Because we desperately need to. We need to reconnect with our Creator, our Lover and our Savior. We need to stop the craziness and focus. We need to lay our burdens down and sit in the lap of our Father and rest. And we need to remember who is God and who is NOT. When we don’t stop, we think it is all up to us. WE MUST MAKE IT HAPPEN. If I don’t, no one will.
Four easy steps to Sabbathing: Actually the first two steps are incredibly hard, and the last two are easy. So I prefer to skip the first two. (Actually, I have been doing that for years. It’s working out great, just ask our kids…they love Sundays…or not.) Moving on to steps 3 and 4: EMBRACE and FEAST. Each Sunday we go to church and EMBRACE the goodness of God, embrace His truth that transforms us and in turn, embrace a hurting world. Then we FEAST with the body – celebrate with community and food and laughter and play. Well, when there is time…but mostly we really don’t have the time, we have that thing, and the kid’s thing is after that, and the house is a mess and there isn’t any food ready, let’s reschedule for next week…and just take a nap.
Back to the beginning: Ok, so those first 2 annoying steps are STOP and REST. But who can really do that? I mean, it was a good idea, God, and we appreciate your concern but…Oh, wait…it is a COMMAND. One of the top 10…number 4 actually. So God pretty much said, “My non-negotiables are these: Love me first and foremost, worship NO ONE or NOTHING else, respect my name and spend time with me…” STOP. Stop the worry and the busyness and the meaninglessness. STOP (Repent) and REST (Trust). Trust that I have it under control. Remember that I am God. REALLY. Let’s repeat that, I AM GOD. Rest in me. Do you believe that you can? Or are you running this show?
We walk into church with arms full of baggage and a mind full of plans and say, “Oh please, not ONE more thing to add to my list! Now you want me to ‘BE LIKE JESUS’ and ‘LOVE A HURTING WORLD’…when???? how????” And we go home and yell at our kids and blame our spouse and feel overwhelmed and inadequate once again. No Sabbath-er can “EMBRACE and FEAST” until we have done the “STOP and REST”. Anything less is playing church and produces ineffective, shame-filled, Christ-wanna-be’s who don’t want to discuss Sabbathing because it is one more way that we are failing.
The Sabbath brings healing and hope. It is not to add to our to-do list, it is to be inhaled and sung and danced and tasted. It is the ABUNDANT LIFE here and now.
“Sabbath keeping frees us to take delight in everything, to uncork our own spontaneity. Because there is nothing we have to do, we are free suddenly to say yes to invitations, to read fairy tails, to be children, to discover the presence of God hidden all around. To keep the Sabbath invites us to have festival fun, to play, to enjoy our guests and our activities, to relish the opportunity to worship, to celebrate the eternal presence of God himself. We feast in every aspect of our being – physical, intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual – we feast with music, beauty, food, and affection. Our bodies, minds, souls, and spirits celebrate together with others that God is in our midst.” -Marva J. Dawn.