God wasn’t kidding when He established the Sabbath. Recently I have come into a new appreciation of just how significant it is to take a day to step back, regroup, contemplate, reflect, recreate, worship. What was a law in Israel has become a principle of importance under the new regime. Jesus made it clear that he was Lord of the Sabbath. The problem in his day was that it had been reduced to an opportunity for extreme legalism. He fulfilled the law of the Sabbath in his own person along with all the others. And what remains is the principle of rest.
I have come to realize just how important the principle of Sabbath is in my own life. Recently I have been working away from home for longer periods of time and then taking some time to catch up on things at home. It’s not an ideal way to live, but this has been what God has called me/us to at this time. While I’m away, I have the privilege of concentrating on my work. And since I don’t live here I don’t have to take much time out for personal or domestic matters such as working on my house, and so on.
But what has become clear to me is the need to step back from the routine even though I have nothing else to do, so to speak. Several times now, I have found myself going too long without a break. Last week was pretty intense in all kinds of ways. By the time I got to Friday, I was coming down with a cold. I had to quit a little sooner than usual in the day to get some cold medicine and to lie down for awhile. After awhile, I got up, went for a walk, had a bite to eat and then got ready for bed. I slept well and long.
I woke up this morning without any pressing responsibilities for my work. Yes, there were a few chores around home to do, but it was relaxing compared to the intensity of all that is involved in transitional pastoral leadership. And now, at the end of this day, I feel refreshed. My cold seems non-existent and I feel ready for tomorrow (Sunday) and the journey home and south for a more extended time of rest.
Sabbath is an important part of what it means to be a lover of God and a follower of Jesus. There are those times when we have to come away to reflect and listen at the feet of Jesus. No matter who we are, we need to take some time out at least once every seven days just to put our work and ministries away for awhile. It’s not easy, because if you’re a conscientious person/leader there is always more to be done. Everyday involves a new list of important matters to process.
But we have to come to the place where we realize that we are more effective and efficient in our work when we are properly refreshed in body, soul, and spirit. Thank God for the opportunity to step back for rest and recreation. Take time to appreciate the other dimensions of your life, to do something seemingly mundane or not mentally engaging. The Sabbath is a day to let God remind you of His great love for you, to let Him give you a hug.