Sabbath is not a list of rules, regulations or legalistic steps to follow. It is a requirement for human survival, in the same way that we must have oxygen and water. We must partake in Sabbath. We need rest for our physical bodies. We need renewal of our minds. We need to care for our souls within the context of an abiding relationship with God away from distractions and demands.
We must remember that Sabbath was created by God along with light, oceans, birds and mankind.
“1 So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. 2 On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. 4 This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 2:1-4 NLT
Did you notice that the account of creation is completed once the seventh day was in place?
“The first holy thing in all of creation, Abraham Heschel says, was not a people or a place but a day.” ~ Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World, p.127
“8 Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.” Exodus 20:8-11 NLT
Sabbath is older than the Temple, the Synagogue and the Church. Let that sink in!
By design your soul has needed a day away with the Creator since creation.
This distinction is important because often we as leaders see Sabbath as another assignment or a place we must go to minister to others. On the Sabbath (Saturday) or on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) I must go and do. You may very well have responsibilities that must be attended to, but you must also find time to be with God.
“Take a nap, a walk, an hour for lunch. Test the premise that you are worth more than what you can produce – that even if you spent one whole day being good for nothing you would still be precious in God’s sight – and when you get anxious because you are convinced that this is not so, remember your own conviction is not required. This is a commandment. Your worth has already been established, even when you are not working. The purpose of the commandment is to woo you to the same truth.”1
Your worth is so very valuable to God that He created a space in time for you to stop and remember.
The commandment also includes a responsibility to create space for others to partake in Sabbath. “This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.” (Exodus 8:10) Spouses, children, employees, friends and volunteers are also of great value and in need of this commandment’s blessings.
John Ortberg continues this theme of our worth’s connection to Sabbath. “For Jesus, identity and acceptance come before achievement and ministry. This is joy no one can take away. You cannot earn acceptance…[our]significance is about who we are before it is about what we do.” 2
Our Lord Jesus said … “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28 NKJV
You were not made to keep the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made to keep you.
Keep you safe.
Keep you rested.
Keep you whole.
So how do we partake of the Sabbath? What does it look like? What is it not supposed to be?
“We need to know, not just what to avoid, but what to pursue…Cease from what is necessary. Embrace that which gives life. These two things, taken together, make up Sabbath’s golden rule…And then do whatever you want.”3
Jodi Detrick gives us these wise words on the balance of work and rest. “I learn how to divide…what is for today and what should belong to tomorrow. As I listen to the Holy Spirit, He coaches me on what is too much, or not enough, to take on…With His help, I’ve been learning to say these words: What I’ve done is enough for now.”4
“I need to engage in practices that connect me to God’s grace and energy and joy…the soul craves rest. The soul knows only borrowed strength. The soul was made to rest in God the way a tree rests in soil…The space where we find rest and healing for our souls is solitude…to remain healthy, our souls need solitude with no agenda, no distractions, no noise.”2
The Invitation to Practice Sabbath:
I often say that I need Sabbath at the end of each day, each week, and each season. Each day is a gift to live, work and breathe; but, it is also a gift to remember, notice, and rejoice. Is there room in your day for both?
If the Sabbath or the Lord’s Day is full to the brim of doing for God do you have a place in your schedule that is set aside for BEING with God? Perhaps you could hold a space on your calendar for some silence and solitude each week? A time each day when you are finished with electronics or a time each week where only conversations to those who are in your presence are allowed – both are great ways to partake in Sabbath.
Seasons often represent a flurry of work. An important project at work, a sports season of practices and games for your child, a performance of a play or musical, these can all lead to a grand finale. This is a perfect time to schedule in a time away, a time to stay home, a time to enjoy and celebrate what has been achieved.
Sabbath is an altar of remembrance, a place carved out in time to know your worth and feel God’s continual presence.
Sabbath can overwhelm the newcomer, like donning a wool coat in August it just doesn’t feel quite right! Start small. I promise you will thirst for more and a balance between work and rest will come.
1 Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World, p.139
2 John Ortberg, Soul Keeping, Caring for the Most Important Part of You, Ch. 11
3 Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God, Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath, Ch. 8
4 The Jesus-Hearted Woman, 10 Leadership Qualities for Enduring & Endearing Influence, p. 254
By: Melisa Turner
The post “You were made for Sabbath” appeared first in the equipHER August Newsletter on July 27, 2017.
Melisa Turner serves alongside her husband Dwayne as lead pastors of Oroville Assembly of God located in North Central Washington. They are beginning their 12th year in Oroville and recently celebrated 25 years of marriage on August 1, 2017. God has blessed them with two fabulous children both currently attending Oroville High School. Melisa’s motto for life can be summed up with this quote: “In so much as anyone pushes you nearer to God, she is your truest friend.” Women’s Ministries is her heart’s call and she serves on several leadership teams including the Northwest Ministry Network’s Women’s Department Leadership Team, Blossom Ministries, and The Alongside Ministry team ministering to Pastor’s wives. Melisa would love to connect with you at www.blossomministries.com or www.pollinatinggrace.wordpress.com
Do you know you have a calling but don’t know how to get started? Join our equipHER community today! We meet online and in-person. Find out more: http://northwestwomen.com/equip/
If you found this blog helpful or encouraging, it would be the greatest complement to today’s blog contributor if you shared this blog on your social networks. Thank you for helping build our #HerVoice community – Strengthening and Developing Empowered Leaders and Churches.