13“If you keep your feet from breaking the SabbathIsaiah 58:13-14
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Last Monday was one of the most productive days of my life! I got my homework done, worked on some music, scrubbed the bathroom, did laundry, changed sheets and more! My house looked great and I felt really wonderful about myself. As I was putting the sheets on the bed, I wondered, “Why can’t I be this productive more often?” And just that quickly I recalled my Sunday afternoon.
A few years ago I decided to make a real effort to observe the Sabbath. Some Sundays I do a great job, and others I find myself not feeling very “rested” or “holy.” But this past Sunday, I rested! I spent time with my husband and simply allowed my body to rest and rejuvenate. As soon as I realized how blessed my Monday had been, I was reminded of how I had actually taken a Sabbath the day before!
It immediately made me want to share my experience with other busy women; most especially moms. It’s so easy for us, as moms, to get caught up in everything that needs done and not take time to just enjoy the day, bask in the love of our Creator and allow our bodies to have down time. Many times, even if we start to enjoy the day, we’ll quickly get caught up in that “one little thing that just has to be done for Monday.” And once we get started, it’s sometimes difficult for us to stop.
On top of that, we have these smaller versions of ourselves who need help with homework or want us to do what they want to do. We may even find ourselves at sporting events, competitions or training or even missing Sunday morning worship to get our child where he or she needs to be.
Something that I’ve learned over the years, something God reinforced this past Monday, is the beauty of my life when I honor the Sabbath. Our need for rest is in our master design. In order to function the way the manufacture intended, we need a good night’s sleep every night and a Sabbath rest at least once a week. And when we follow the owner’s manual and carry out the Creator’s instructions, not only can we find ourselves more productive, we also are promised joy! God says He wants us to find our joy in Him by celebrating a Sabbath. He promised that we’ll get to ride in triumph. All of that for honoring the Lord’s Holy Day.
Now some of you are wondering, “What are the things I should and shouldn’t I do on the Sabbath?” That’s because, like the Pharisees, we like things spelled out for us. Just like young children, we really like knowing what the boundaries are. The problem with kind of thinking is that all of us end up breaking those “rules” if we bind ourselves up in them.
The only directives we’re given are that no one is to do any work and we should keep the day holy. Keeping the day holy is a bit ambiguous an order when we really stop and think about it. Holy means to be like God, sacred. That doesn’t mean we won’t play games or have fun, but it does mean that we’ll be keeping in mind the things that God wants us to do rather than “doing as we please.” Having a holy Sabbath will usually mean worshipping with the body of Christ. We should be carrying to God the prayers and praises of His people. We should be rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn. Keeping the Sabbath Holy is more about paying attention to and acting according to what God wants instead of our own
Doing no work seems pretty straight forward, but even this phrase was widely abused by the Pharisees. They were constantly making people feel guilty about how far they walked and what they prepared to eat on this holy day. I really don’t think God is concerned about what we consider work and what we don’t. I have a friend who loves to ride the lawn mower. While taking care of the lawn would seem like labor to me, it’s a time of praise and worship for others. We don’t need to create a list of do’s and don’ts. If we simply ask our Sovereign Lord what He’d like us to do, we’ll get it right every time.
So, I’m really writing today to give you permission to take a Sabbath. Honor the day by doing what God pleases. Perhaps He’s giving you time to play with your children or enjoy your husband. Maybe your Heavenly Father knows that you just need a chance to rest and relax. Read a book, take a nap or play a game, whatever you decide, just get God’s approval first. He loves you and only wants the best for you. Walk with Him especially on the Sabbath and get ready to “ride in triumph on the heights of the land and feast on your inheritance.”