What Does a Modern Day Sabbath Look Like?
And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
– Mark 2:27
I’m currently writing this devotional on my couch in my sweatpants at 7:30 pm on a Tuesday. And honestly, I plan to be in bed asleep within the hour. Do I have the flu? No. Am I wildly exhausted and depleted of energy for myself and others? Yes. Can you relate?
You book your calendar until there’s no margin, believing the lie that if you’re busy, you’re doing something right.
You feel guilty at the thought of having to skip a meeting or turn down a gathering (especially when it’s faith-related) so you say yes even when you know you’re stretched thin.
You tell yourself you’ll rest when you complete your to-do list or catch up on all the missed work.
If this is you, you’re in good company. Rest is something we really don’t do well in this country. And in a time when it’s second nature to mindlessly scroll social media, respond to email on our phones, or fall asleep with the TV on, how could we be expected to prioritize rest and fill our cups?
But rest is something we need to take seriously because God takes it seriously. It was so serious to Him he made the recognition of a weekly Sabbath one of the 10 commandments alongside the rules to not commit adultery, steal, and murder. And while we can say our salvation is sealed because of our faith in Jesus and not by following rules, we should still aim to honor God by following these commandments, including prioritizing a Sabbath, because they were set with our best interest in mind.
However, if you’re like me, the idea of a Sabbath intimidates you. You don’t think you can carry it out, so you don’t even try. And because of this lack of trying, you end up burning out week after week. But in Mark chapter 2, Jesus makes a great point we still need to remember. God created the idea of a weekly Sabbath not as a way to measure up, but to gain something we desperately need: rest. We don’t have to follow this commandment to earn God’s love, we can choose rest to bring Him glory and reap the immeasurable benefits!
So let’s get simple for all of us who need to start small in order to build up our capacity for rest. Here are a few ideas to start prioritizing rest and creating a modern day Sabbath for you and your family.
- Start with a few hours: For the next month, set aside a block of 2-4 hours on your calendar each week (preferably on the same day and time) and label it for your Sabbath. In this time, don’t turn on the television, clean, work, or try to be productive. Turn on some worship music, read your Bible, journal, go outside and enjoy the fresh air, or get a refreshing workout in. Soak up the rest and thank God for the opportunity to slow down and get centered!
- Work up from there: Now that you’ve got the hang of this weekly rest thing, build your capacity for a longer weekly Sabbath. The key is to make this a part of your weekly routine. Schedule it in advance and hold firm to it.
- Give yourself grace: There are going to be days or weeks when your Sabbath doesn’t go as planned and something comes up in place of your rest. Life happens! Don’t let that discourage you in your faith. Talk to God about it, give yourself some grace, and look forward to your next day of rest.
I hope these ideas are helpful, and I pray that you'll open your heart up to the idea of incorporating rest into your weekly routine!
With you in the thick of it,