The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. Psalm 19:7
When the psalmist David talks about the law of the LORD, He is not limiting the law to the Ten Commandments but extends the word to mean the full teachings of truth from God. He says the law is perfect, a word that comes from the Hebrew adjective tamin, meaning complete, sound, or having integrity. God’s words can be trusted.
While the phrase reviving the soul may remind us of this week’s command to keep the Sabbath day holy, this reviving of the soul is so much deeper than a weekly time to rest and refocus on God at the end of a busy week. This reviving of the soul is the fulfillment of our greatest need — eternal, spiritual rest. The law shows us that we will never obey God’s laws perfectly. We need a savior to reconcile us to God and bring us from death to life.
As New Testament believers, we have the gift of knowing that the Promised One came, lived a sinless life, died in our place, and was resurrected to give us spiritual rest. Now we strain toward the future day when He returns to take us home for eternity.
Our weekly sabbath allows us to refocus on this truth in worship and meditation, to evaluate where we have failed to keep God as the center of our days, and to talk to Him about where He wants to direct us in the week ahead. But if we don’t prepare ahead, our work will likely creep into our Sabbath days, and in the planning, we can find joy in the day.
Below are some ideas for preparing to take a day of rest. Please keep in mind that we have freedom in how we prepare for and then observe a day of rest. We don’t want to become like the Pharisees who made the Sabbath a liturgy of shall-nots rather than a gift to be celebrated. In preparing for rest, we have permission to plan our days according to what will bring joy and rest.
- Start with prayer, thanking God for the gift of the Sabbath and asking Him to help you guard the weekly day of rest.
- Evaluate the work you need to accomplish in the next week, considering how you can spread out that work over six days, not seven. In stewarding your time, you just might be pleasantly surprised how God provides for both your work and your rest.
- Prepare food ahead in order to have leftovers for your Sabbath lunch, and stock your fridge with sandwich fixings, fruit, and cut vegetables for a quick dinner.
- Schedule when you will clean the house before the Sabbath day, so you won’t feel the need to clean or organize instead of rest.
- Choose in advance to set aside your phone — and email — for this day because it might pull you back into work mode. While technology is a useful tool in many ways, it can also distract us from rest and time with family and friends. It is a good idea to communicate with others that you won’t be responding to texts, calls, or e-mails for a set time each week, and in doing this, you might be surprised how few messages you actually receive as you free up others to rest. We highly recommend Andy Crouch’s small book The Tech-Wise Family, which provides suggestions for how to have a healthy relationship with technology and take needed breaks from it each day, week, and year.
- Plan ways to connect with your family in meaningful ways. Playing together is a beautiful way to rest and to pour into the lives of others. Of course, for the introverts among us, time with people can be draining, so also plan some quiet time to nap, read, journal, or pray.
- Don’t neglect serving others and seeking their rest on the Sabbath, for as we see in Jesus’ example this is our call as His image bearers every day of the week.
What are some of the ways you have — or would like to — prepare for a weekly day of rest? We’d love to hear about your weekly rhythms. You may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.