We are created in the image of God. This statement is full of hope, power, identity, and so much more. It defines who we are. It also defines how we are to be in the world. In addition to being co-creators with God through our work, we are signs and symbols of the new kingdom of God. We live into that not just through our work. We also show who God is and our trust in Him through our rest and our sleep. Our rest and sleep reveal our limitations and our need for God.
But let’s be honest. It’s not always easy to rest. We are more connected to the world around us today than ever before. We have become addicted to “busyness,” often attaching our self-worth to what we’re doing each day. But even God took time to rest! He created a space for us to experience rest, too, and called it Sabbath.
So what does it mean to observe this kind of rest, particularly Sabbath rest? We may be tempted to fill our time with tasks, events, or even rituals that don’t end up leading to actual rest. When this happens, we don’t find the release we need from our need to perform or produce. This time of rest should bring grace, freedom, renewal, and presence with God. This is why the Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.
Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. – Mark 2:27 (NLT)
Think of it this way– when you need sleep, rest, or are observing Sabbath rest, do only those things that are life-giving. Remove anything that looks like productivity or striving to do more from your routine. In your normal day, practice spending time at least once a day doing something that brings that kind of life, even if it is for a short time. You might try starting with just five minutes a day.
When we begin to practice adding moments of rest into our lives, we hand over our rushing and worrying to God. We make space where we are completely dependent on Him.
On your Sabbath day, try one of the following:
- Stay off your phone and technology all day long. There are all kinds of studies right now that demonstrate a need for that in order to produce healthier relationships.
- Avoid conversations that are focused on work or producing something.
- Spend unhurried time in God’s Word or just be quiet in order that you might hear His voice.
- As you look at the day, step back to see God, the world, and yourself the way God intended– good.
Rest and Sabbath – It’s a day, or a point in our day, to step back, as God himself did on the seventh day, and enjoy the fruits of our labor. It’s a day to look at our life, our work, and the cross and say with great contentment, “This is enough!” Tim Keller puts it well:
The purpose of Sabbath is not simply to rejuvenate yourself in order to do more production, nor is it the pursuit of pleasure. The purpose of Sabbath is to enjoy your God, life in general, what you have accomplished in the world through his help, and the freedom you have in the gospel—the freedom from slavery to any material object or human expectation.
If you’d like to practice Sabbath with a friend, contact Spiritual Formation Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, for resources to help make this a meaningful experience for you!