Best Day of the Week
I want to let you in on something exciting. As I’m finishing this blog post, I’m already giddy that tomorrow is my sabbath, and truthfully, I can’t wait! In fact, the anticipation of the day fills me with such joy that I’m smiling just thinking about it!
I can’t say that I’ve always felt this way, though. Growing up, the sabbath meant to me wearing dresses (I hated dresses) and going to church. As I’ve grown in my faith journey though, I’ve realized there is more to God’s command of the sabbath than dressing up and not missing church, and if that’s all it is to you, I’m thrilled to help open your eyes to the outlandish blessing of what the sabbath should be!
To set the foundation, we need to first understand what God is actually commanding of us. Let’s take a look at the whole sabbath commandment.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11, NASB)
The Hebrew word God uses for holy is qadash and means to “dedicate it as set apart, sacred.” This sabbath day should be easily recognizable as being different than your other six days and done with the purpose of being connected with God.
How does God want us to connect with him on this special day? By resting and worshiping. Then million-dollar question should be, “What is resting to you?” The Bible defines it as withdrawing or ceasing from work, giving comfort, just settling down, or my favorite… to delight. If we combine all of these findings, we understand that God is commanding us to withdraw from whatever we view as work for one day, in order to seek delight through connecting with Him (worshiping). How absolutely horrid of him, right? To tell us to experience delight for one whole day, praise him for it and then do it every week?
Now with building excitement, I want you to ask, “What could I engage in for one whole day that would absolutely delight my soul?”
Dan Allender, in his book Sabbath, describes it as this:
The Sabbath is an invitation to enter delight. The sabbath, when experienced as God intended, is the best day of our lives. Without question or thought, it is the best day of the week. It is the day we anticipate on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – and the day we remember on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Sabbath is the holy time where we feast, play, dance, have sex, sing, pray, laugh, tell stories, read, paint, walk, and watch creation in its fullness. Few people are willing to enter the Sabbath and sanctify it, to make it holy, because a full day of delight and joy is more than most people can bear in a lifetime, let alone a week.
Yes! (Do you see my see my fist in the air?) This is why the Sabbath has become my favorite day of the week. It is the day I rest from normal work responsibilities and indulge in activities that give my soul pure delight. For me that could be worshiping with my church family, reading a book, spending time with my husband and children, watching a movie or taking a nap. These are just a few of mine but know that what brings you delight can be totally different than my list.
Remember, though, it’s not just free card to rest all day doing what I want. It is the combination of resting, knowing and observing that God has blessed this day and given it to me as a gift! One that fills my soul and prepares me for the week ahead; therefore, all throughout my sabbath, I am thanking Him, lifting praises to Him and expressing my gratefulness that He has commanded this beautiful day. Every time guilt begins to creep in, I turn it around and praise God that he has commanded I take a day from working. I take the advice of John Mark Comer, author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, who describes it this way, “When I sabbath, I run each activity through this twin grid: Is this rest and worship? If the answer is “No,” or “Kind of, but not really,” or “Umm…,” then I simply hold off. There are six other days for that. What’s the rush?”
In our fast-paced culture that is obsessed with busyness, we have convinced ourselves that taking a whole day for resting is a luxury that can only be observed by the lazy or the underachievers in society. Resting has become synonymous in our minds as something to be enjoyed in retirement (that’s a WHOLE other conversation for a later time) or when you’re exhausted. Yet, the hardest working, most successful and creative being ever, chose to take an entire day to observe this habit, and commanded us to do it as well. It’s almost like it might be the antidote to not getting exhausted. Hmmmm…
Then, why would I, a creation, disobey my creator? Do I believe that I am wiser than the one who created me and knows every hair on my head? First of all, our old nemesis sin has been convincing us since the Garden that we can be wiser than God. “Did God really say…” We have come to believe that even though God commanded it, it doesn’t really apply to us because we are different and know what’s best for us. How has this train of thinking turned out for us so far? Terrible. Humanity has proven to be extremely destructive when left to our own devices. The Bible and our own history books will testify to our continual demise when we think we’re wiser than God.
Secondly, I believe the idea of a whole day of rest goes against my inner human belief that I am absolutely needed to make my world exist for myself and those I work with or care about. If I rested, turned my phone off, or just disconnected, everything would fall apart. I am essential. Or, maybe you may have the opposite belief. You believe that if you took a whole day of rest, everyone in your world would realize you’re NOT needed, and you would be replaced or forgotten. Do you know what drives both beliefs? Fear. Fear that you will not be there to fill the need and let someone down. Fear they will become angry, and you’ll suffer the consequences. The basic problem with both views is that I’m still thinking of myself too much. I’m the center, not God.
The Bible tells us that our ultimate purpose, the reason we were created, is to glorify God our creator. How do I do that? By loving Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). Thinking as a parent, when do you think your child is expressing their love toward you? When your child is actively doing all the things you’ve asked them to do, or when your child is ignoring your wisdom and independently pursuing paths you’ve specifically warned them will be harmful and destructive? Let’s expand that. What if that child was joyfully following your instructions and expressing gratitude to you for sharing your wisdom and caring about their wellbeing? Which situation is most glorifying? That one really hurts.
I am now realizing that observing a day of rest and worship is not only good for my mind, body and spirit, but when I do it with an attitude of gratefulness to God for granting me such a gift, it increases my love and trust in Him. It will be scary, but by stepping out and believing that if He commanded this day of rest, I will grow to trust that He, in His all-powerful self, will also not let it cause anything that would be detrimental to my ultimate purpose of glorifying Him. I can rest in Him knowing that He is in control. As Matthew Sleeth, author of 24/6 would put it, “It is a day when I trust that the world can get along fine without me.” I've also changed my mind about dresses, but this isn't a fashion blog.
So, the real question about taking a Sabbath is...do you trust God enough to begin delighting in this command? Open the gift my friend, and welcome to the new best day of the week.