When I first began practicing the Sabbath, I understood that it was a day to simply rest and become recharged. I didn’t, however, know the reason behind why the Sabbath actually existed. I kind of knew what the Sabbath was, but I couldn’t answer the why behind it.
After studying Scripture, reading books, asking questions, and celebrating the Sabbath, it’s becoming more and more clear to me how God created this world and his people. He created the world with unique rhythms and different seasons – rhythms for water to ebb and flow, seasons for plants to grow and other seasons for them to be dormant, rhythms that make the earth spin providing light during the day and darkness at night.
In similar ways, he uniquely created human beings to have and live within rhythms. Rhythms to breathe – inhaling and exhaling, rhythms of eating and fullness, to then be hungry and need food to sustain us. Rhythms of being awake during the day and receiving sweet sleep at night.
God created rhythms to nourish, sustain and balance our hearts, minds and entire lives.
Scripture says there is a time & season for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and I believe that our culture, as a whole, does not understand and neglects to reflect upon these seasons, these biological rhythms that are innate within each of us that tell us when to gather and let go, when to cry and to rejoice, to mourn and to dance, and when to work and when to refrain from working.
Our culture is constantly telling us to work more hours, to keep climbing the ladder, to do more so you can buy more. But what about the other part that makes life whole? What about rest, relaxation and playfulness, enjoying what we worked so hard to get?
Our bodies have innate rhythms that help us to learn when to keep going and when to stop. We need to learn how to listen to our bodies, we need to learn when the time is right to work and when we need to refrain from working.
In the book, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives (which I’ve referenced in previous posts), Wayne Muller explains how creation wasn’t finished until the seventh day, when God created rest.
Sabbath is about rest, it’s about listening when we are told to stop. Sabbath isn’t just a Christian tradition or another “rule” that as Christians we need to or are required to follow. The Sabbath is for our own good.
After 6 days of creating the entire world God rested; therefore we, as mere human beings, are able to rest from our work.
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I’ve asked myself these two questions many times: What is rest? And what does that mean for me? The answer may differ for everyone, but thinking through the lenses of: physical, mental and emotional rest, can help significantly in answering those questions.
We can physically rest by taking a day off of exercising, sleeping in on a Saturday, or going for a casual walk in replace of a normal run. We can also mentally and emotionally rest, like turning off our phones, not opening our tablets or laptops, decide to not respond to emails, and say no to going out with friends.
It’s good to say no and not answer emails, it’s OK to not answer every phone call, and it’s good practice to say no to another night out because it helps create boundaries and saying no always means saying yes to something else, and in this case, you will be saying yes to more sleep, more memories at home, and more time simply being and less doing.
I don’t have it all figured out because as I’m writing this I’m still learning more about rest. I’m learning about wholeheartedness and what it looks like day after day. I’m currently learning how to be fed by Jesus, how to take better care of my body and how humility shapes your heart and mind and how you interact with others and this world. I struggle with stopping, with saying no and setting boundaries, but I’m learning that balance, the balance between work and rest.
Rest has been redefined in my life & I want it to be redefined in yours. Below are a list of questions to reflect upon. Take a quiet morning or lazy afternoon and truly ask yourself these questions:
- What does rest mean to you? Define it.
- How are you currently resting?
- Are you celebrating the Sabbath?
- What emotions do you experience when you hear the word solitude? How about when you practice it? Or sitting in silence?