This series comes from a question I received from a reader. It was such a great question, with so many aspects to it, that as I began to write my response I realized it would be a great series. Today is the beginning of the series. Here is the question which prompted the series.
I tend to over-stockpile my plate full of obligations, responsibilities, events, church things, and social community things. They are all great and good and fine, but its really hard to find a place of rest in my heart that is not burdened by something or someone else already. Not to mention, my husband, more often than not, tends to get the last bit of my energy that’s barely existing, and It’s easy to feel like I’ve failed everyone by the time I’ve laid my head to rest at night.
How can I be responsible and faithful and yet still balance getting a day of rest without feeling lazy while doing it?
I can completely relate with your struggle. I feel like I have been on a journey with this same question for the past ten years. I too felt that exact same way for years every night as I fell asleep, that I had failed everyone. God has been so faithful through wise believers, His Word and His Spirit to help me be able to fall asleep at night being able to truly rest in body and mind because I no longer feel like I am living in a pressure cooker about to explode.
Let’s start by exploring the concept of taking a Sabbath day. I lived for years thinking that taking one whole day a week to rest was at best a luxury but impossible for me. There was a particular season where I was working full time while directing a Children’s Ministry at a church, helping lead a small group while also investing and mentoring young women in the church. At the beginning of that two year season I did not take the concept of Sabbath very seriously. However, I found myself quickly becoming an absolute mess! I woke up most days feeling heavy and exhausted with the weight of tasks I had to complete along with the emotional weight of pastorally covering several ministry areas. I felt like I was continually on the verge of an emotional meltdown and couldn’t enjoy “normal” things anymore.
It didn’t matter where I was invited to go, or what there was going on, all I wanted to do was SLEEP and not think for several hours. Somewhere in the midst of this the Lord really spoke to my heart about the absolute necessity of taking a Sabbath, an entire day of rest once a week. I couldn’t fathom that this could actually happen, but I had a major light bulb moment when I realized that a Sabbath wasn’t just a nice idea or suggestion it was actually a command! It’s a little embarrassing to admit but somehow I had missed this commandment in Exodus 20:8-11.
“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.
It amazing how many believers miss this commandment, when we pay a great deal of attention to the other ones. Although compared to most of the commandments God is extremely specific about this one!
If someone came up to Joe Average churchgoer and asked “Does God command us not to murder?” Joe churchgoer would emphatically say “YES!” And if we asked Joe if that was a commandment he tried to follow he probably would say again, “YES!” However, if we asked Joe Average churchgoer does God command us to take a day off once a week where we rest, recharge and connect with Him? Joe may stutter and stammer, thinking about His answer. Even if Joe did answer “yes” if we followed up with the question, “is this a commandment you try to follow?” you may get a few more stutters and stammers.
I realized that not following ALL of God’s commandments was a sin! Although I may never get thrown into jail for it, it didn’t take away from the weight of this commandment. One thing I have found out about God is that He doesn’t give us commandments because He is trying to be a kill joy or controlling, it is the exact opposite. He gives us commands because He loves us and wants us to experience fullness of life and incredible joy.
One thing was certain to me, the way I was living life was not giving me incredible joy. Yet as crazy as it sounded, I was confident I was right in the place God wanted me and that He must have a better way for me. So I decided to give the Sabbath a try. And guess what it worked! I began to feel much more refreshed every week. Yes, there were times where I felt weary but it always helped me to know that no matter how hard the week was that I had a rest coming on Saturday!
So how did I make Sabbath happen? I will tell you my practical steps in the next post.
In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts about Sabbath. Is it something you practice weekly? Why or why not? What does your Sabbath look like?