The past week felt like a month. On Friday (or was it Saturday?) B. said, “This was a big week.” I agreed, but neither of us could quite pin down why.
Was it my disillusionment with working out and frequent cries of “This is all pointless!“? Perhaps it was the extra concert at school or the fact that B’s been working extra late this week. I did finish reading two books and start another three; that could have something to do with it. Or maybe my senses are all awakened now that Spring finally broke upon us. My ambitions are no longer hibernating in the freeze of winter and I’m all aware of my shortcomings and tiredness.
Of course, it’s all of those things that have contributed to my sense of “so much” this week. We know that life is life and often it feels like quite a pile of busyness–and often it IS a pile of busyness. Work, meetings, Bible studies, rehearsals, readings, exercising, house projects, etc.
We are working forward, ever striving. We are building ourselves up while hopefully not tearing ourselves down in the process. Oh we hope, we hope.
Instead of striving, I want to stride in meaningful, efficient, effective, rhythmic strides. Instead of only hoping, I want to have faith that my work is paying off. (Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 NKJ)
How can I do this? How can I boost my faith to a place of knowing that my work is beneficial and long-lasting?
By keeping the Sabbath holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)
Yes, as I was finishing my third book of the month today, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Peter Scazzero), I was impressed once more how completely necessary a consistent and true Sabbath is for mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I have always enjoyed taking Sabbath and have usually seen little need to work on my days off. However, I have a lot to learn yet about taking a meaningful and impacting Sabbath, where its very pattern makes a difference in my life.
Here’s what Scazzero says about a true (Biblical) Sabbath, along with my own interpretation and application:
1. It should include STOPPING. No running around, no big errands, no to-do list, no bill-paying, no chores, no work, no work e-mail, and maybe even no smart phone, or regular phone for that matter.
This provides a release for us in obligations. By setting the boundary of communication and activity, we lessen the busy feeling and increase the “free to do whatever we want” feeling.
2. It should include CENTERING. Stillness, deep breathing, closed eyes. Attentive hearts, ears, and eyes to the good things of the Lord and what he says to us. Praise and thanksgiving.
This allows our hearts to commune with God and our emotions to stabilize. This is what makes our hearts feel calm and balanced.
3. It should include SILENCE. No chattering, no music, no internet, no TV, no traffic jams, only a select number of long conversations and only after a time a silence with the Lord has been had.
This allows our minds to move to the back of our consciousness, while our spirits to move to the forefront. Our real selves, our spirits, can then hear the whispers of the Lord without distraction and disruption.
4. It should include SCRIPTURE. Reading The Word of God, meditating on it, memorizing it, even speaking it out loud.
This allows us to know God both spiritually and intellectually. We study so that we know God’s character, thoughts, desires, ambitions, and work for us–both what He has done and what He wants us to do.
Doesn’t that all sound lovely? Don’t you want to have a full day to just be, to do what you want and enjoy? A day where your spirit feels lifted and centered and whole?
You can have this day; take it and guard it. It is your Sabbath. Take its rhythm and live in it–each week.
In this way, in allowing the mind, heart, spirit, and emotions to be free from the burden of busyness, we find true rest and rejuvenation.
Scazzero re-tells a story of a group of pioneers traveling west by wagon. They were devout Christians and stopped each Sunday to rest, remembering the Sabbath. However, as winter approached a group of the travelers decided to give up Sabbath rest in effort to beat the snow to Oregon. Despite their humanly efforts, they did not reach the west first. No, the group who continued to rest each Sabbath was stronger and moved more efficiently the rest of the week. They arrived at their destination first.
This is how we can be full of faith that the rest of the week will be fruitful and produce the desired results, by the strengthening power of rest and holiness.
*In order to notice a difference, a weekly Sabbath must be kept regularly, with diligence and intent.