I remember the first time I heard about someone I knew who was honoring the Sabbath in her own special way. Sabbath rest looks a little different to everyone, and I don’t remember exactly how she spent her time on those Sundays off, but the basic gist of it was 1) relaxation and refreshment, 2) time with God, and 3) no productive stuff.
I was fascinated by the concept. As a girl who loves to-do lists and finds enjoyment in work, I didn’t think I could take an entire day off every week and still 1) accomplish everything I need to get done and 2) feel good about myself.
I started doing some major digging on the subject. I read books, I read blog posts, and I even listened in on a really long theological webinar on the topic. (Geeky, I know, but I love learning.)
I found a lot of crazy evidence that I had never heard about before, scientific data to show that we are biologically designed to rest. Not just sleep, but rest. Rejuvenate. Refresh. Research showed that people who took a day off each week were actually more productive with only six days of work per week than they were with seven days. They got more done, and in less time too. Some research even showed that our bodies are biologically designed to function best by working in cycles of six days on, one day off. (Hmm . . . it’s almost like we were created by God and not just a Big Bang, huh?)
I’m not sure whether all that data was conclusive. I’m not a scientist, and I don’t even remember where I read it all. But there was a lot of evidence to really make me stop and evaluate my own life.
Could I make time for Sabbath rest? In a season where I felt like my life was flying by way faster than ever before, it didn’t seem like there was any way for me to cut out my Sunday to-do lists and be able to survive. It literally seemed impossible to me.
On the other hand though, I was experiencing mild anxiety for the first time ever in my life. The stress and anxiety made me decide that I desperately needed to make this Sabbath thing work. Somehow.
So I gave it a go. How did I do it? Two things were key:
- I started by dipping my toe in the water. I began honoring the Sabbath by simply staying off of e-mail and social media each Sunday. That was it. That alone freed up more time to hear God’s voice above the noise of the world. I was able to spend more time with him without falling prey to constant distraction.
- I began trusting God to take care of all the stuff that needed to get done. No, I don’t mean I expected him to magically send angels to do my laundry for me. But I realized that God was powerful enough to accomplish his will through me even if I wasn’t a busy bee on Sundays.
I started all this over a year ago, and my Sabbath days have evolved since then. Sometimes my Sabbath is on Saturdays, but typically Sunday. In addition, my current guidelines for myself include saying “no” to work, to-do lists, errands, emails, and social media, while saying “yes” to church, time with God, reading, hanging out outside, spending time with people I care about, and doing anything that’s fun with zero guilt.
Less of the usual daily things means more space for God.
I’m not perfect at it, but that’s not the point. The rules are for my benefit, not to make God happy or try to please him. (I know my rest pleases him, but Jesus removed the need for us to follow strict Sabbath laws.) As Jesus says in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath” (New Living Translation).
I’m still working on honoring the Sabbath. I want to honor it even more than I do now. I know I’ll get out of it what I put into it. The physical rest is wonderful, but having the margin in my life to be in God’s Word is the greatest benefit of it all. As our Pastor, Mark Jeske, describes in one of his devotions, God instituted the Sabbath for many positive benefits, with one standing above the rest: “The greatest reason . . . was to give emphasis to the Israelites’ greatest treasure, and that was their relationship with God. The key to their Saturday Sabbaths was not in not working, but in setting aside time for worship and praise, learning from the Word, and enjoying their place in God’s family and favor.”
If you’re skeptical about trying this yourself, hear this, friend: I would honestly never have thought when I started out that I could “give up” my Sundays. God proved me wrong.
Try incorporating some Sabbath rest into your life. Don’t think that’s possible? I can almost guarantee God will prove you wrong too.
Plus, you will remember what it’s like to take deep breaths once in a while and actually slow down enough to enjoy your life and to hear God’s voice above the noise. Take that, crazy hectic life. Take that, Satan.
Psst! If you need some help with Sabbath rest, I talk about this and other topics in my recently-updated FREE 12-page workbook: 3 Lies about Time Christian Women Tell Themselves & 3 Truths That Will Set You Free. Click here to snag it!
This blog post originally appeared as a guest post I wrote for Time of Grace!