Remembering the Sabbath

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."
Exodus 20:8

If I had to give myself a rating on how well I have kept this commandment, I'd give myself a 3 out of 10. I don't know about you, but by the time Sunday evening rolls around, I'm exhausted. We go to church in the morning, cook lunch at home, hang out in the afternoon, then go to our village meeting (small group) for a few hours in the evening. I love each part of our day, but honestly, it just doesn't seem to be much different than the other days of the week in how my heart and time are focused.

Some dear family friends of ours have modeled this principle well, and even their 3-year-old understands that there's no Wii or playing with dad's iPhone on Sundays. The Sabbath is to be set apart from every other day of the week.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "holy" can be defined as "exalted or worthy of complete devotion."

That definition brought tears to my eyes. I have not been demonstrating to the Lord on the Sabbath that He is worthy of my complete devotion.

And so in an effort to keep the Sabbath holy, I have chosen - beginning tomorrow - to abstain from the following on Sundays:

Internet surfing. Whether browsing through blogs or on Facebook, it has the potential of being a distraction for me. In Leviticus 16:31, it says, "It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance." In giving up the internet for an entire 24 hour period, as silly as it sounds, I am denying myself of a habit in order to focus more fully on the Lord. I know that as soon as I pull out my iPhone to check Facebook, I'll be quickly reminded that the Sabbath is to be holy and set apart. I think it will be an encouragement more than anything.

TV. This is not a difficult one as we don't watch much television at all, but I'll go ahead and include DVDs in there, too. I think reading would be more restful and enriching.

Email. Oftentimes, it's work. Most of the time, it can wait. If anyone has a pressing need, they can give me a call.

Cooking, for the most part. I am hoping to stay on top of preparing meals in the evenings so they can be quickly heated on Sundays to free up some of my time. There's even a verse for this one! Exodus 16:23 says, "Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning." I can't say I believe that cooking is biblically prohibited on the Sabbath, but for me, it's a large chunk of time that I could be spending doing other things if I would simply plan ahead.

What I hope to do more of on the Sabbath:

Rest. How often do we set aside time to rest?
Exodus 35:2 says, "For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord." I think purposefully resting my mind, body, and spirit will be even more
healing and rejuvenating than I think.
Spend concentrated time with my husband. We used to have our date nights on Sunday nights and I really loved that. It was a time that we were able to begin our week on the same page.
Spend time in prayer for the upcoming week and catch up in Bible reading on my daily reading plan (if need be).

I hope you see these things as I do - as an encouragement to devote ourselves more fully to the Lord and not as deprivations or rigid rules. And I hope you'll join me in this. Obviously, you may decide to give up different things or spend your time in other ways.

Ultimately, the Sabbath is a gift from God to us. He didn't have to command us to rest, but He knew we would be better for it. In Mark 2:27, Jesus proclaimed, "The Sabbath was made for mankind and not mankind for the Sabbath." The Lord extends the invitation to us on the Sabbath to rest and take joy in it, just as God Himself rested on the seventh day and took joy in all that He had created.

I hope that each of us will find that on Monday morning, we feel rested and ready for the week ahead because we have made the choice to keep the Sabbath holy... to deny ourselves in some way... to devote ourselves to the One whom our souls love... and to find joy in the midst of it.

He is truly worthy of our complete devotion.

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