By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day, he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. - Genesis 2:2-3
Sabbath once was a sacred and protected sacrament. A sabbath is defined as a day of religious observance and abstinence from work. Recently, my kids and I listened to Farmer Boy by Laura Ingels Wilder and were amazed by the strict description of how the Sunday sabbath was observed during this time. Families spend the day enforcing no playing, talking, or doing much of anything. This level of strict observance of a sabbath is hard to imagine in our modern world, where life keeps going full speed ahead, 24/7.
Thankfully, we’ve embraced a more grace-filled approach to our seventh day of the week. This begs the question, “Is the concept of sabbath still applicable to our modern lives?” Are there consequences for pushing ourselves to be “productive” seven days out of the week? Does going harder really mean we accomplish more? Should we protect a sabbath day as a part of our routine? What do we gain when we schedule strategic pauses in our lives?
These are important and practical questions for every believer, as we now live in a culture that is obsessed with optimizing our time and productivity. The fact is how we use our time has real consequences. Time is a finite commodity in our lives. Intentional decisions about how we use our days are an important part of wise-living. We see this truth simply put in Psalm 90:12 which says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
God has real reasons for instructing and modeling for us the practice of taking a sabbath that we would be wise to pay attention to. He created us with real limits and a real need for Him. Sabbath is just one way that we are reminded that God is our provider. Time and time again, we see that in His economy, He does more with our obedience, even if in many ways that means we are doing less than others. When we follow God’s commands, he multiplies our time and resources.
At the start of the Bible is an account of God’s creation of our world. He worked making our known universe for six days straight and then on the seventh day He rested. He set the 7th day apart as “holy” or “sacred” (Genesis 2:2-3). God sets the precedent for the intentional use of our time. God did not need a day off, He elected to set apart time to enjoy the work He had just done!
Many of us may not feel the need to press pause on our workflow. Working hard past the Monday through Friday 9-5 may not leave us exhausted, yet God shows us that we need to be intentional about balancing the work and reflection. Part of worship requires that we reflect on and remember the things God has done (Psalm 143:5). This only happens when we make the choice to take some of our time and dedicate it to the Lord.
We so quickly lose sight of the things that matter in our lives. Just as the Israelites quickly turned to grumble when things started to get difficult, even after God had performed countless miracles on their behalf. We so easily forget what God has done for us and His mission for our lives. Sabbath is the intentional practice of forcing on minds and hearts to refocus on the beauty of God’s provision in our lives. At the end of God’s 6 days of creation, He knew his work was good! He didn’t want to blow past creation’s majesty, He wanted to soak it in.
Sabbath allows us to “soak in” God’s presence, to reflect on His good gifts, to meditate on His promises, and to reconnect with Him so our lives can be lived with the proper perspective.
If our desire is to live a life in a relationship with Jesus then we have to make time to connect with him. Sabbath is an essential way to focus your attention on Jesus. That could be through attending a church service, reading the Bible, singing worship songs to God, praying, being in nature, creating, connecting to a community of believers, or listening to an insightful sermon. God speaks in a variety of ways, but we know we hear him best when we commit time to focus our hearts on him.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.
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