This past weekend at Keystone Church’s annual Men’s Retreat I shared what I have come to understand as the importance of rest, of Sabbath. I read a book a few years back by Mark Buchanan titled The Rest of God, and it was influential in my understanding of the importance of Sabbath. It’s not something that was just for Old Testament law or for the Israelites. It is very much for us today – and we neglect ourselves when we don’t observe it.
In Genesis we learn that God did all that he did in his creating powers to create the heavens and the earth in six days. And then, as we all know, he rested on the 7th, the now titled Sabbath day. Did God have to do this? Of course not – I heavily doubt he was plagued or tired or needed a creating break. He probably could have kept on creating new galaxies until present day. But he chose to rest – as as Ephesians 5 tells us to be imitators of God – we would be wise to do likewise.
Paul tells is that we are like pots. Pots are hard – but they’re also brittle. They break easily, and I believe that God knows this. He knows that we break easily, that we’re easily worn out, and that we need a break. And this is why we need Sabbath. It’s not rocket science. It’s similar to budgeting – we all know we need to do it (it’s not an academic problem), but too few of us do. And we’re constantly tired. I now do my best to set aside some time during the weekend, even if it’s not Sunday, to just rest. Buchanan defines Sabbath rest as “doing that which brings life, and not doing that which is necessary.” Pretty much: do what brings you refreshment, and don’t do what you feel you have to do. That’s my two screening tools I use to decide what to do on a Sabbath.
Of course, you can get legalistic with this though (as with so many things). I don’t think it’s a sin to work on Sundays – in fact, many pastors have work hours on Sunday. They take another day off during the week. I’m fine with that. It’s not the rules that are important, it’s the concept. And it’s the concept that we’re missing. The Bible, specifically in Numbers 14, takes this Sabbath rest seriously. Ironically enough though, with all the rules given to clothing, procedures, cleansing, mildew removal, clothing material, and ways to live our lives in Deuteronomy, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and so forth, almost no mention is made on how to “live” Sabbath. I think this is beautiful. Mark 2:27 quotes Jesus as saying “Sabbath was made for man,” and this is so true.
I feel blessed to have come to this understanding of Sabbath so young in my career, instead of setting bad habits now that will be hard to break later in life. If you have the chance, Jack, look up The Rest of God and give it a read. I pray it will have an influencing impact on your life and on your career. Till next time, Jack.