It’s coming up on a year since I was last challenged afresh about my attitude towards the Sabbath. (I’m not talking so much about any specific day, but about the principle of one day out of every seven days which is intentionally set aside for rest.) And for the past year, for the most part, I have tried to consciously observe a “Sabbath rest” on a weekly basis. For me, given that my responsibilities on Sunday make for a pretty busy and full Sunday, my Sabbath starts at sunset on Sunday and goes to sunset on Monday. Yesterday was my Sabbath.
And this morning, as I’m reading Moses tell again the Ten Commandments to a people about to enter the promised land, I’m reminded that the Sabbath day is not just about rest, it is more importantly about remembrance.
“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. . . . You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
(Deuteronomy 5:12-15 ESV)
As we’re wont to do, we naturally make things about us. And to be sure, a day of rest can be so good for the rester. But there is an ends to a Sabbath means. A reason for resting. As Moses reminds God’s people, we are to cease work and to set apart a day to the LORD our God. It impacts us, but it’s really about Him. And how does our rest thing become a God thing? We rest to remember.
We pause to ponder. We take a breather to renew what we believe. We plan a lull in our active lives in order to put a limelight on the Giver of Life.
That’s why Sundays are such a good Sabbath day. That’s when we can gather with others who also want to be still and know that He is God. That’s when a place and a program have been planned that allows the people of God to gather to the praise of God. But as I was reminded a year ago, “doing church” isn’t the be all of a Sabbath rest nor is it the end all. Because it isn’t all — it’s just a few hours in what should be a 24 hour period of remembering. What we do with the rest of the day, or some other day, is just as important.
As I was reminded last year, it’s important to be intentional with what is done on the Sabbath. I was challenged to plan to do stuff, or not do stuff, on my day of rest that would cause me to think of the One who gave me rest. Activities, or “inactivities” as the case may be, that triggered my mind to give thanks to my God. To plan to do stuff that brought joy to my soul as a way of sparking a delight in my Savior. For example, yesterday I purposely chose to do a Costco run followed by Chick-fil-A run with my grandson. For me, that was a Sabbath delight. All glory be to God who delivered me from the slavery of sin and death with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm so that I might enjoy good gifts in life — gifts like a sandwich for me, some nuggets for him, and some precious time together. Just me and a two-year-old. A Sabbath delight.
Didn’t read my bible all day yesterday. Didn’t fast and pray for hours and hours. But what I did, I did outside of my normal routine, and I did with the purpose of delighting in my salvation.
A day given by God, and received by me, so that I could rest and remember and rejoice.
Remembering His grace by His grace. Rejoicing in His glory for His glory.