Today, as we enter our final week of Embracing God’s Rest, we have a beautiful post and podcast from Brianna Hines on the joy and freedom that the Lord gives us as we approach the Sabbath. We would love to hear from you via email or in the comments section below to celebrate with you how God has used these weeks in His Word to encourage and to challenge you. Also, don’t miss the announcement at the end of this post about our next series in God’s Word.
Throughout this series on sabbath, I have heard the same question over and over again: “How do I do the Sabbath right?” We want to do things the right way, the way God intends us to. I think that was the heart of the Pharisees in the beginning, wanting to do sabbath so right that they made a thousand rules to keep it as holy as possible. They started out with the right intention, but, as we know, following rules can quickly turn to worshipping rules and feeling more righteous for following them.
That is not what sabbath is about. No amount of rule-keeping will make us any holier or closer to God than our neighbor who works like a dog 24/7. No amount of rule-keeping, good deeds, church attendance, or community service hours will get us any closer to paying off our sin debt to God. Only one thing, one person, can do that, and His name is Jesus. He paid all of that debt, up front, so that we don’t have to be slaves to sin or rule-following anymore.
The freedom we get from Jesus resolving our debt with God takes a mountain of guilt off of our aching shoulders. Will God love me any less because (confession) I spent the majority of my sabbath last week catching Pokemon on my phone? No. Will God love me more if I spend exactly 24 hours reading my Bible by candlelight this weekend? No. God’s love has absolutely nothing to do with how I spend, or if I even take, a sabbath. So then, why should I sabbath? Because God designed sabbath as a way to train our hearts to stop striving and look up at Him. God wants to give us the very best gift He can give: Himself.
The sabbath isn’t another obligation we need to fill. It is an opportunity to meet with our Savior once a week and learn His ways, so we can practice them all week long. Time and again God tells us in His Word to remember Him and remember His ways. My mom brain requires that I pause for a minute as I trot through the aisles of Fred Meyer to remember where I put the car keys or what I had written on my grocery list. How much more do we need to set aside time to pause and to remember who God is, what He has done, and let it dictate how we live our lives?
If I lift my eyes from my overflowing calendar and to do list, it only takes a minute to see a thousand blessings from God. The lacy skeletons of trees in winter. Delicate water droplets on morning grass. A bird flitting past the window. All of these things remind me of Who made them and gave me eyes to even see them. All of them remind me of God’s bigness and my smallness. All of them start to shift my perspective off the importance of my to-do list and bring me back to what really matters, Who really matters.
That is why we need to lift our eyes to God once a week to His blessings and His Word. We need to tune into that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, asking Him what we should do with a chunk of time before us. God didn’t spell out a right way to take a sabbath for a reason. He wants us to be in conversation with Him about it. He wants us to depend on Him. He wants us to lift our eyes and realize how big He is and how much we really need Him.
So, in answer to the question, “How do I do the Sabbath right?” I would say that we need to be asking God that question, rather than authors, pastors, friends, or even ourselves. God knows when you need to put down your work. He can see right into your very heart and will tell you, in a still, small voice, when to work and when to rest, when to plan and when to play, when to sleep and when to pray. I can’t give you the answers. I can’t tell you a magic number of hours to work each week, or what time to shut off your laptop for the day. I can’t tell you what your children need in this season or how many hours to help your aging mother with caregiving. I can’t tell you if you need to take a semester off school or to take even more classes next fall. I can’t tell you if you need to quit that second job or apply for a third. Only God knows these things, and only He can lead you in your balance of rest and work on the Sabbath and all the other days in between.
I hope that this series on embracing God’s rest has been a gift to you. I hope that it has encouraged you to be in conversation with the “Lord of the Sabbath” about if or how to take a sabbath of your own. As we wrap up this final week, I pray that each of us could feel a little more restored, a little more rooted in God’s Word, and a little more prepared to embrace the rest that God longs to bless us with each week. Thank you for joining us on the journey! We love you!
Come and See: Join us for seven weeks in the Gospel of John. We invite you to Come and See what John, a disciple of Jesus who walked beside Jesus during His public ministry, felt were the most important details for you to know in order to follow whole-heartedly after the Lamb of God. You can expect special content on the blog Monday through Friday for six weeks beginning next Monday, Feb. 15 (a special introduction will be published here on Saturday, Feb. 13) and then a full week of Easter surprises in our final week of the series. Everyone who is signed up for Come and See will receive a special something from the women’s ministry team at UFC in her mailbox the first week of study and on her porch during Easter week! If you are currently signed up for Embracing God’s Rest, your registration will automatically transfer to our next series. If you or someone you know would like to sign up for the first time, please click this link.