Sabbath Rest

Two weeks ago I turned off the lights in my office at the pregnancy care centre for the very last time. That signified the end of that portion of my life and ushered in this new period of ….. well, I don’t even really know what this is. I’ve been mulling that over and have decided to call these next weeks an unpaid sabbatical. And while this idea of a number of weeks at home sounds lovely and is likely enviable, it’s not actually that easy.

What is that makes rest so challenging? Why is it that the idea of all of this time to just stop seems so appealing, yet is so hard to do? Seems ridiculous, yet is something that many struggle with.

However, more than just being appealing, we are actually called to rest. God set apart an entire day a week for rest, demonstrating His intimate knowledge of His children and knowing that we need the break. Sabbath rest is a gift to us to us from God.

In The Justice Calling, the authors expand on this, reminding readers that, “Sabbath is not an easy gift to receive because it is designed to show us our dependence on God…the gift of Sabbath rest forces us to acknowledge that God’s work in this world is more important than our own.” (Hoang/Johnson, 2016).

In a world that values self-sufficiency, where the “self-made man” is celebrated, it is not an easy thing to admit that we need rest – not to the world, not even to ourselves. Too much of our identity is often found in what we do, how we fill our days. “How easily we cuddle our accomplishments as a security blanket to remind us that we matter, instead of trusting God’s assurance poured upon us in baptism that we are His beloved.” (The Sense of the Call, Dawn, 2006).

Sabbath rest causes us to rely on God – let’s be practical. Taking time off, whether that’s closing your business one day a week or taking an extended break, means that we need to trust God to provide for us. What I’m also finding is that it gives time and space to hear God and see all the ways that He is providing.

Last week I was at an appointment and was asked, “So what do you do?” I found myself fumbling for words, with a desire to explain that I did have a job, that I’m going to be working again, that I’m taking a little break, but I’ll go back…it shouldn’t be so hard to admit that I’m taking a much-needed break. That at this exact point in time, I don’t “do” anything. And that’s ok.

Marva Dawn refers to all of the different kinds of rest referred to in Psalm 23 – spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, social. These six short verses, beloved to so many, speak of the Sabbath rest that we are called to.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

May this be our testimony as we rest in God.

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