Sabbath is something which God has been speaking to my husband and me about this year. We kept hearing this theme come up long before social distancing, quarantines, and staying at home became the norm. Now all across the globe, things are shut down, and people are being forced to slow down. This is the perfect time to start implementing some new habits in our lives. But after this is all over, we should hang onto the new habits we created. And I hope that honoring the Sabbath, and slowing down in general, are things all of us will continue.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. – Exodus 20:8-11
In the Ten Commandments, one of the instructions God gave us was to observe the Sabbath. According to biblestudytools.com, “The origin of the Hebrew sabbat is uncertain, but it seems to have derived from the verb sabat, meaning to stop, to cease, or to keep.”
On the day of Sabbath, God is telling us to stop and rest. God made the heavens and the earth in six days, and rested on the seventh day. So He commanded us to also rest on the seventh day. This can be difficult to do in our normally fast-paced world. Prior to the pandemic, many of us were often running from one thing to the next.
When I was around ten years old, I remember going camping with my family. My parents, grandmother, sister, uncle, aunt, cousin, and even my grandmother’s dog were all there. It was a nice opportunity for us to spend quality time together. One thing I especially remember about this trip is the story my mother relays about it at times. She had a difficult time just sitting and doing nothing. This is how many of us are these days. It seems to have gotten worse in recent times with all the devices we have now.
But resting is essential for our well-being, our spiritual life, our emotional state, and our physical bodies as well. It is not good on us to always be going and going. Eventually something has to give. We will burn out if we do not seek rest.
Ironically, as we are currently forced to stay home, I have heard a lot of complaints of boredom. Personally, I have not been bored for a single moment since I have been in isolation. Perhaps this is because I am a homebody. And I am working remotely, so my weekdays are still consumed with work. But after my working hours, I have been enjoying the slower pace. I am not making light of this situation. My heart breaks to think about how many people are suffering in different ways right now. Of course I do pray that the pandemic ends soon. However, in the meantime, I believe the Lord is trying to teach us all some things during this season.
This is the perfect time for all of us to learn to slow down and savor our time. Spend quality time with those in our household. Play a board game. Read a good book. Watch a movie. And most importantly, spend time with the Lord.
Resting in God’s presence truly refreshes us. Different versions of Psalm 23:3 say: “He refreshes my soul” (NIV), “He renews my strength” (NLT), “He restores my soul” (ESV). This is so true. Recently one Friday afternoon I was exhausted after a long week. For about twenty minutes I closed my eyes and just talked to the Lord. Afterwards, I felt rejuvenated.
In my opinion, resting also plays into hearing from God. If we are always busy and filling our head with different things, we do not have room to hear from the Lord. But when we take time to quiet our minds and focus on Jesus, we can truly see miracles in our spiritual lives.
Something I have been trying to do in preparation for the Sabbath is to get ahead by doing as many chores as possible the day(s) beforehand. I also try to stay off devices on the Sabbath, which helps me to quiet my mind and focus on the Lord. Devices can be a big distraction which takes our attention away from God and from our families. I believe staying off of devices one day a week can help refresh our minds and souls, especially if you have come to rely heavily on your devices. I also am intentional about being present. This helps me to have more quality time with those around me. When I do these things it helps me to have a peaceful day and gives me a renewed strength.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:31
Please share: Is there anything specific that you like to do (or don’t do) on the Sabbath? And have you been working on any new habits related to slowing down these past few weeks?