August 13, 2014

Sabbath: Priority Not a Privilege

C.S. Lewis is credited as the author of the shadowlands analogy: We live in the reality of things yet to be; pilgrims wondering through the shadows, our hearts and souls aching to find the greater resting place (heaven). The shadowlands were never meant for permanent residency. We were not created for this place, and deep in our hearts a restlessness is what we wrestle. A searching and longing to bury our roots in... but it does not exist here. These shadows--they lead and point to something greater, for that is their purpose. God uses shadows to merely mirror or echo something greater of Himself. 

We live in a culture that glorifies planners, overly-packed schedules, constant on-the-go mentalities, and hundreds and hundreds of tips on how become more productive. For many productivity is their little god. It's honestly made a mess of things if you asked me. We rarely have time of our own, let alone time to be part of one another's lives, or indulge in a hobby... or nap. People experiencing burn-out continues to increase with each year and in the U.S. many of the health issues are a result of just extended stress. But this constant state of busyness was not the rhythm God established for His created world and order.

In the opening chapters of Genesis we read about how God created for six days, and then on the seventh, He rested (Gen. 1-2). Later, after the Exodus, God sets up this thing called The Year of the Jubilee (Lev. 25), which basically meant that after working for six years, the Israelites had to take the seventh year off and celebrate. You heard me right: The whole year. God pretty much told them to party for a year, or He would kill them. (I mean seriously, if we want to re-instate that any time soon, I'm game.) 

Recall that one time where Jesus was eating at His friend Martha's house? Martha was busy cleaning and cooking, while her sister, Mary, was soaking in and enjoying Christ's presence. Now if you happen to have a sister, you know that this whole lack of pulling the load of the work, does not go over smoothly. Naturally, Martha was not too happy with Mary in that moment. To make a Long story short though, Jesus told Martha that there is no work greater than spending time in His presence Him (Luke 10:38-42); she should not neglect to do so.

Here's the thing: God cares a great deal about you and I taking time to rest, so much so that it's even included in the 10 commandments--although it's seemingly the one we like to pretend doesn't exist in there. This isn't a bad thing at all, in fact it's an incredibly good thing... freeing... and a gift to be enjoyed. By God asking us to take that seventh day off, He's reminding us that He's THE Creator... the world isn't going to fall apart if we don't check off every single little box on that to-do list. He's got it covered. He's in control. Trust Him to take care and provide for you, be free to worship, spend time with Him and others, rest, and do something fun! (Maybe you need to throw a party for the heck of it...)

Sabbath is a gift to you and I from God to enjoy and delight in. Sabbath it a time of remembering, reflecting... exercising our memories of all that God has been to us and all that He has given us. Sabbath is for worship. Sabbath it for putting down the paperwork, for taking the day off of whatever labor you may keep busy with. Sabbath is for family and friends while remaining fully present. Sabbath is for picking up a novel you've been wanting to read for months, shooting some hoops, pulling out the game boards, sneaking off on weekend getaway trips, relaxing on your couch with take-out and a movie, or one of my favorites, napping. Sabbath is for feasting, fun, and yes, partying! 

Sabbath is a grace extended towards us to be attentive to our family, friends, food, our bodies, our minds, and our worship. Don't miss out on all that it has to offer! God made and still intends for sabbath to be a norm in our lives, not an indulgence. So indulge friends!

2 comments :

  1. SO good! Sabbath has been on my mind lately, mainly because I have not had a Sabbath in a long time. This causes a lack of rest and for me, eventually heads over to anxious thoughts. Taking a Sabbath is humbling; it is admitting that we are not built to last forever. I do not have an energizer battery pumping me up for constant productivity 24/7. It simply won't work because eventually I burn out. I would like to learn to balance productivity with sabbath rest, making a priority of time to reflect on God's faithfulness, seeking Him in prayer and studying His Word, and being around people who reflect Him & point me to Him. He IS my sabbath rest, leading me to still waters and restoring my soul (just like it says in Psalm 23). BUT I have to relinquish my unhealthy hold on the little god of productivity (I am glad you boldly called it that, because it is true!) and admit that I need rest. It's easy to excuse extreme productivity by overspiritualizing work, but in taking a sabbath, I am worshiping God. I seems silly, but is very true, that I can worship God by taking a nap if it means I am resting from busyness and accepting the command to rest (which he commanded out of His love for us and knowledge that we utterly need rest!)
    Awesome post, Natalie! I needed it!!

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    1. The productivity "god" is such a killer in our culture. The thing about it is though, if one person adopts it they expect others around them to be on the same track with them... which is why Sabbath is highly influential upon everyone else around us.

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