Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On Time, Energy, and Who We Are // Sabbath Keeping

photo by Valerie Lynn Jones

I started this series talking about my introverted need for alone time. Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on precious time spent with other people, or getting projects done, but I've learned how to balance my schedule in light of who I am and God's purpose for me. I simply cannot thrive on consistent social interaction and doings. BUT I am called to be a wife, a daughter, a friend...I am called to minister, to give and to love.

So by meeting with God daily, spending time in His word and prayer, I find I am able to establish boundaries for my schedule - ones that keep me from being either selfish or overzealous - ones that keep me in His will.

Today I'll talk about a weekly rhythm that God uses to guard my schedule and my heart:

2. Keeping the Sabbath
Honoring the Sabbath is one of God's commands for us, but it has very little to do with legalism. Christ himself observed the Sabbath but would heal (Mark 3:1-6), gather grain, and preach on that day. He reminded the Pharisees that, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:23-28). In other words, it is a gift to us, not a form of bondage.

The way I see it, God knows how much we need Him and His presence, so He made it simple for us. He set an example, then told us what to do to receive what we need. After six days of creation, God stopped His work, rested and delighted in what He did (Genesis 2:3). Then He told us to, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus20:8).

This is so we too would stop our work, rest and delight in Him. It is for our benefit as well as for God's glory.

I don't believe that "stop work" means sit on the couch all day. The focus should be on the restorative nature of God, refraining from things that drain us and partaking in things that refresh us, as well as our relationship with Him.

Some of my best Sabbaths include doing something - but just me and God - and something that helps me delight in Him: writing, studying His word, reflecting, worship, photography, relaxing outdoors. I become more energized when I am doing things alone with God.

Sometimes my Sabbaths are not spent completely alone, or they do involve some amount of "work". But the focus is on meeting one of my God-given needs that may not have been filled throughout the week, like a date night with my husband. Or if I haven't been able to attend to certain household projects, I'll do one. Sometimes the relief of completing a project is refreshing! As long as I am able to "refill my tank" and delight in my Lord while doing it, I will allow it.

When determining the best way to observe a Sabbath, it is important to seek the Lord and have a good amount of self-awareness. Know what He desires out of your relationship with Him. Know what you need to really be able to rest.

I ask myself these questions to make sure I'm honoring the Sabbath:

  • Am I doing something that draws me closer to God? (prayer, Bible study, worship)
  • Am I saying NO to things that keep me busy? (to-do lists, errands, social engagements)
  • Am I saying NO to things that might make me anxious, agitated, distracted...?
  • Will doing this thing allow me to delight in God and the life He gave me?
  • Will doing this thing allow me to experience peace, joy, love...?
  • Will my time spent today be spiritually, emotionally and physically I can start my week "full"?

I believe that when we keep the weekly rhythm of resting in the Lord, then we are better able to serve Him throughout our week. When we are drained and empty, our ability to carry out our purpose suffers (we've all been there).

I need both the intentional daily interactions with God and the weekly restorative moments. And the best part is, He desires that for us too.