Here are the facts: Sabbath rest was given to us by God not only as a commandment (one of the 10!) but also as a GIFT. When’s the last time you thought, “I just need a day off.” Or “I constantly feel exhausted.” Or “I can’t catch my breath.” Or “I’ll never catch up with my to-dos!” (You see where this is going…)
We were not made to run at full capacity all the time. God even demonstrated this when He created the world. On the 7th day, He rested from His work.
Everything You Need To Know About Sabbath Rest
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So I’m going to start this post with a question. When’s the last time you took a true Sabbath rest? When’s the last time you embraced this day in all its fullness? Before writing this piece I’m not sure I ever had. But I hope by the end of this post we’ll both understand why it’s still important for us today, how it can bless us and our families, and specifically how to incorporate it into our lives on a weekly basis.
Sabbath Rest Is For Us Today
The Sabbath is for believers today. How do we know? First, it is one of the 10 commandments which means it’s for everyone for all time. Second, Exodus tells us as much. In verses 31:16 it says, “The people of Israel are to keep the Sabbath, to observe it throughout all their generations, as a perpetual covenant.”
Not only that but boy it seems we may even need it MORE these days. The pace of life was slower even just a few decades ago, let alone hundreds or thousands of years ago.
Today, everything is instant. So that often means our brains are rushing to the next thing without appreciating the now. We also don’t have time to THINK when we’re bombarded by social media, advertisements, music, and instant gratification. But our souls, minds, and bodies are literally crying out for some peace, quiet, and more certainly, rest.
We need to shut off the world around us so we can 1. truly rest and 2. have it quiet enough to be able to hear from God.
The Sabbath Can Bless Us
As I already said, Sabbath rest is a GIFT.
We say: I’m tired.
God says: here’s a day to rest!
We say: I can’t even think straight.
God says: here’s a day to rest!
We say: I’m stuck inside all day.
God says: here’s a day to enjoy nature and my handiwork!
We say: I just want to enjoy my family.
God says: here’s a day to do that!
And yet our brains still don’t accept it. Why? Because our to-do list is a mile long and we think if we take a day off the world will spin out of control. (It won’t.)
(Also, be sure to check out this very different Bible study on the Proverbs 31 woman!)
In this case rest = strength.
Taking a sabbath rest is also an act of trust. It’s telling God, “I can’t do this on my own. I know because I’ve tried. So I’m going to cease from working and cease from striving to prove that my strength and success comes from YOU Lord and not from my ‘hard work.'”
This act of surrender reminds me of the verse in 2 Corinthians, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Trust God. We feel like we need that day to catch up on stuff. But God is giving us an opportunity to trust him by not doing anything. Trusting that He will provide even as we stop striving. It’s a time to remember that God is our provider.
Sabbath Rest Dos and Don’ts
First, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do on a Sabbath. “Work” is such a confusing word in this situation, but I’d define it as pursuing our own interests. (Isaiah 5:11)
So if we are to cease working, this means we shouldn’t do work for our job on our Sabbath. Now don’t get fired of course, but don’t feel like you need to get a head start on the week either.
It also means (again within reason) not doing household chores. Leave the laundry and the vacuuming and the sweeping for another day. For me as a writer, it means not working on my blog, not creating new Pinterest pins, not pitching articles to publications. A true day of rest means we need to TRULY REST from these activities.
But here’s what we can and should do: rest, worship, study scripture, pray, EAT (it’s biblical!), and spend quality time with our family. Also, make sure to pick up Rhythms of Rest on more ways to incorporate Sabbath rest into our lives.
Lastly, here is how to create a day of Sabbath rest for you.
This could include pushing a little harder on Saturday to get work you need to get done so you don’t need to touch it on Sunday. It could also mean making extra food on Saturday so you don’t have to cook or clean the kitchen the next day. (Or in my case, beg your husband every Sunday if you can get Chiptole.)
(PS: Your Sabbath does not always need to be on a Sunday. I know plenty of ministry workers who take their sabbath on another day of the week since they work on Sundays. The important part is to pick a day that you can be consistent with.)
2. Be present.
Put your to-do list away. Stop thinking about what’s next. And for the love of walruses, put away your phone. 😉 All these things will help you be more present with your family and enjoy the quality time that actually creates memories. Even more so, this type of stillness will allow you to listen to God and what He wants to say to you on that day.
3. Fellowship with others.
Attending church is the obvious choice here but it can also include a Bible study or hosting dinner for people in your small group.
4. Take a walk or spend time in nature.
Weather permitting, I try to take a walk every single day. There is something so healing about it. But it seems even more special about taking a walk on a Sunday! I think it’s because there is no agenda then. We’re not walking for exercise, or to get somewhere. We’re walking to enjoy the day.
I also love the idea of using Sundays as the day to explore a new park or nature reserve.
Or as I said before, cease from working. But rest can also mean taking a nap, reading a book, or meditating on God’s Word.
I love how Rebekah Lyons puts it in her book, Rhythms of Renewal:
Taking a rest isn’t a sign of weakness. Yet our culture whispers the opposite: if we try harder, work smarter, make the right career moves, get that next degree, work overtime, connect with influencers, and go for our dreams, we just might live a life of significance. But God declares we are already chosen, beloved, appointed, and set apart. He ordered our lives with purpose and intention. We don’t need to hustle to prove something God says is already true.
Your value as a human being isn’t found in what you produce; it’s found in who you are in Christ–a person designed in the image of God to glorify him forever. From the beginning, God designed His creation to be more abundant, fulfilled, and joyful when we work from a place of rest and renewal.
Why is it so hard for you to take a Sabbath rest? What will you do differently this week?