When my husband and I were Children’s Pastors, we did a series on the 10 Commandments. The fourth commandment is “Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy.” After a little research we discovered that “sabbath” means “to stop”. So, we played a game where we told the kids to act something out (playing basketball, doing the dishes, jumping up and down, etc.) and then when we yelled “Sabbath” everyone had to freeze. It was a quick activity that helped everyone understand the meaning of a seemingly archaic word.
At this same time, there was a really fabulous Seventh-Day Adventist church in our community who asked us to do a kids’ service for them. They were a small congregation and met at the local hospital’s meeting room. We had a great day with them but what I remembered (and enjoyed) the most was when everyone greeted each other they said, “Happy Sabbath!”. Their simple greeting showed honor to the Sabbath day–and reminded each other about the specialness of the day.
I remember when I was a girl that Sundays felt kind of like holidays. Stores were closed, we stayed at home after church and (even though I disliked it) we went to church on Sunday nights. You couldn’t do a lot of work because there were no computers, internet, cellphones, iPads or even open stores to interrupt your resting!
Today, Target closes one hour early on Sunday. Even Family Christian Store is open on Sunday. The idea of stopping on Sunday is rare.
I opened up Matthew Sleeth’s book 24/6 on Saturday night and finished it yesterday afternoon while Asa, Lydia and Les played t-ball at the park. Sleeth was an ER doctor who married into a Jewish family and then he and his wife became Christians about ten years ago. They have an interesting story and run a ministry that teaches people about taking care of God’s earth.
Anyway, with this whole quietness thing I’ve been pursuing and my screen-Sabbath on Sundays, I really enjoyed some of the insights from this book. I’m gonna just give a few quotes from the book streamofconciousness like.
“Rest shows us who God is. He has restraint. Restraint is refraining from doing everything that one has the power to do.”
You know, we don’t have to do every single thing just because we have the opportunity. Just because I have a couple of free hours on Sunday doesn’t mean I have to fill it with work…or even with productivity. Rest is ok. Actually, it’s a command.
“Sabbath keeping is nothing less than grabbing onto the robe of the Maker of the universe.”
Although he wrote a book dedicated to Sabbath, there were certainly no clear-cut “do this” and “don’t do this” lists. His whole point was to encourage us to devote a whole day to quality time with God. Not in a super-spiritual, on-your-knees or too-holy kinda way. It’s more of a, “Hey, God. I really do think you’re number one. This day is for you. Let’s hang.”
“Young people are leaving the church in droves–something like 70 percent during the college years…One reason is that most children do exactly what they are taught–and they see their parents worshipping many lesser gods.”
Worshipping many lesser gods. This was totally it about my iPhone. My kids saw me take my phone from room to room, to use it to check in about everything from the weather to a question. They saw me unable to live without it. What are they going to do when they reach iPhone age? Not only want one, the way I wanted a Nintendo in 6th grade, they will think they can’t live without it because their mama can’t. What other lesser gods have I unknowingly set up?
“The trick is to allow God to have the room, space, and quiet needed to make an impression on you.”
This is what it all boils down to. I do #hellomornings because I need a spot in my day to stop, to wake up, to focus and spend time with God. I recognize this hour window as necessary to a productive happy day. I’m just coming to terms with the same idea for a Sabbath day. A whole day that is more than just my-husband-is-off-of-work and we-don’t-have-any-appointments. It’s a day that is focused on stepping away from the everyday and focusing on God.
Just as my #hellomornings doesn’t consist of just praying and Bible reading, Sabbath doesn’t have to be only about worship. You can spend time in creation, playing games with your family or reading books. It’s about resting and reveling in the beauty of God’s gifts.
And one more quote that will make you feel restful just reading it…
“Rest is stopping ones work, whatever that work may be. Rest is freedom from harassment. It is the quiet after the storm. It is children fresh out of a bath with pruned fingers and the smell of baby shampoo, tucked under their blankets before bedtime.
Rest is the sound of the night breeze rattling the palms as it comes in off the Gulf. Rest is putting your head down on the pillow knowing that you can sleep in. Rest is the beast of burnden unhitched from the plow. Rest is walking around the edge of shorn cornfields in the fall. Rest is reading and setting the bok aside when your eyes get too heavey. Rest is the sound of the wind through the screen porch of the beach house. Rest is stopping. It is staring up through the thin Colorado night sky at the spine of our galaxy.
Rest is thinking about all the things that you could do on a Sunday afternoon and hearing a still, small voice tell you to just stop–and then taking a God-ordained nap.”
I want to up my Sabbath-ing. I want my kids to see and experience me showing restraint, tearing down lesser gods, reveling in God’s gifts and truly resting. I’m still not sure exactly what it will look like, but for now, my heart is ready for the weekly stop. It’s ready to grab the robe of God.
How do you Sabbath? Or do you?
I bought this book for $2.99 for Kindle and looks like it’s still available at that price! Oh, Amazon, how I love thee!!