Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. —Exodus 20:8
I’ve been hearing this verse for over two years now. I’ve been hearing a still small voice telling me I needed to rest–regularly.
I thought I was listening.
But I didn’t get it.
I thought as long as I put chunks of time aside to simply “be” with Jesus–no matter how many other things I had going on–I was resting. I thought I was keeping the “heart” of the Sabbath.
Well, come to find out, that’s not really rest–not complete rest at any rate. (Perhaps the rest of the world already knew this?)
In the past, my idea of “rest” came down to devotion. It was caring about a relationship and making it a priority. That’s a good thing. It’s an essential thing. It’s a vital thing …
But it’s not rest.
Our society is not good at rest. I’m no exception. I’m “plugged in” a dozen different ways–pulled in a dozen different directions–and daily faced with a plethora of distractions. I’ve always got way too many balls in the air. I never want to let anyone down or let anything fall to the ground. It’s all important stuff. It’s all good stuff. And sometimes–most of the time–I don’t know what to leave out.
I try to be discerning. I try to focus. I try to be intentional. But no matter how focused and intentional I try to be, sometimes–often, lately–it’s all just too much.
So I hit a wall. I ran out of gas. Spiritually I was okay, but physically and emotionally–I’ve been a complete mess. When I asked the Lord about it — about how to get back to a healthy place — about how to find restoration for my body and soul — I heard the same words I’d been hearing over and over again for more than two years …
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
Remember the Sabbath. Remember rest. Set apart time … to rest.
Rest … then restore.
So that’s what I’m doing. That’s what I’m choosing to do. I’m resting. In fact, I’ve been so worn out that I’ve needed to play a bit of catch up. I’m in the middle of what has been a blissfully unplanned and (mostly) unplugged two weeks of rest. But even when this special little window of time is over, I know I can’t go back to my old ways.
I need to remember. I need to remember the Sabbath. I need to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
It has always seemed far-fetched–an impossible luxury–to truly set apart a whole day a week for rest. But for me, it simply isn’t an option anymore. It’s not a luxury–it’s a necessity. I’m not talking about engaging in religious extremes, I’m simply talking about keeping a day free each week to focus on what is restful and restorative. And when that seems impossible to do on a regular basis–and sometimes it will–I need to remember that believing the upside-down principles of God’s kingdom always begins with a choice.
For example, in choosing to trust God with the first-fruits of our finances, many of us know the upside-down reality of living better off the portion of our income that’s left after we give than we are able to live off the whole …
Can’t we also, then, believe we will accomplish more in six days than in seven?
Surely we can … if we remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
We are on the cusp of a brand new year. A time of new beginnings. I can’t imagine a better way to begin a new year–a new season–than by being rested and restored. I don’t see things slowing down in the year ahead. If anything, I see them speeding up. There is great potential and great possibility before us. There is much to be done. I want to be effective for the long haul. So instead of slowing down–I’m going to stop.
I’m going to stop one day a week and rest.
I’m going to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
How about you?
Thank you, Lord, for the upside-down principles of your kingdom. Rest isn’t a religious obligation–it is a privilege–a provision–and a necessity. And as we rest–you bring restoration. This year, Lord, may we, as your people, learn to rest in deeper and more complete ways–that we might be refreshed and ready for all that’s ahead. In your name, Jesus–Amen.