Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sabbath struggles

Well I already did the devos post this week, I may as well go double cliche and talk about Sabbath while I'm at it.

Why is Sabbath so hard for us as Americans? When I was a kid the adults around me were often overly legalistic about the should and should-nots of Sundays, and now that I am adult it seems as if there are no rules or regulations at all. I guess we should have stopped somewhere in between 1988 and now. But we didn't.

A few moments ago I was lounging on the couch laying out our Sunday in my head. Shockingly we have no commitments tomorrow other than church, so honoring the Sabbath should be a piece of cake. I am even planning on honoring a long standing family Sunday tradition, that of Sunday dinner. Which is actually lunch, but we call it dinner even though we eat it around 1:00 in the afternoon. It consists of a roasted meat, potatoes, anywhere from 3-7 side dishes, a jello salad and then dessert. Then you lay on the couch and don't move until Monday morning. This enforces Sabbath rest because you've eaten so much you have no other choice. With all this in place I still find myself tempted to schedule in no Sabbath activities for tomorrow like mowing, filing and closet-organization

So I guess the point I have to come to is what does a healthy respect of God's call to Sabbath look like for us? I know that God doesn't want us to be legalistic about it but I also know that it should look different than the other six days of the week. I've been to bible school, I've done some reading, some listening and some general thinking on this subject of Sabbath and this is what I have come up with. You may disagree or feel called to add to this list, and I can honestly say I respect that. However I do encourage you to focus more on what you should do on Sabbath rather than what you shouldn't.

1) Set aside some time to focus on God- Typically this could be church but I fully endorse non traditional means of focusing on God as well. Someday I would love to go to a monastery and meditate (this will likely kill me) or spend my Sunday morning worshiping God by simply breathing in a mountain view. Whatever you do, draw near to him and breath in his word, his teaching. Lift your heart and your hands in worship to his faithfulness over this past week and commit the upcoming week to him as well.

2) Don't produce anything you don't need to- My favorite example of navigating Sabbath in regards to work-load came from Rob Bell at least five years ago during my time at Mars Hill and it has stuck with me. He said "imagine yourself in your backyard, sitting in a chair and enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon and you see a weed growing in your flowerbed. Today, don't pull it, it will be there tomorrow." God must have known our propensity to over commit and overwork ourselves. So he commanded, not requested, us to take a day where we live in the knowledge that he didn't create us to be machines, but to be unique extensions of himself. So I may wash a few of the dishes that we create on Sunday, or pick up the blocks in the playroom, but I don't launder, I don't weed, and I don't organize.

3) It's okay to enjoy who God made you to be- Here is the part where a lot of people get hung up. What is and is not okay to DO on the Sabbath? Where I grew up the cardinal sin was mowing your lawn on Sunday. But what if lawn care was your most passionate and enjoyable hobby? A lot of Jewish families don't cook a thing on the Sabbath because they consider it sinful, but what if cooking for the people you love and enjoying a big meal together fills your heart to overflowing? The long and short of it is that God created us each with unique passions and hobbies and pouring these things out is worshipful to him. So if you love to cook and mow, then go for it. If you like to stroll with family, lace up your Asics and enjoy. Worship God through being you and don't be quick to judge other people's Sabbath activities.

4) Community- There are thousand ways to say it, No man is an island, birds of a feather flock together and all that jazz. However, the long and short of it is that God created us for each other as well as for himself. I heard it said once that we recognize the God in each other and think that is exactly right. So from my corner I think that enjoying time with the people you love is an essential part of Sabbath rest and it's easy to do when you incorporate the first three suggestions.

So: Worship & draw near to God + rest + be you + be with the people you love = Sabbath

In my 29.5 years this is what I have come up with in regards to Sabbath wisdom, take it or leave it.

Why am I always fighting so hard against this day? Oh yeah... I am hopelessly human, so are you. Luckily I have another grace filled Sabbath at my disposal and hey... so do you.

In case you're wondering the number of times I used the word Sabbath in this post is 15.

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