“Sabbath is first and foremost a day when we cease all work – paid and unpaid. On the Sabbath we embrace our limits. We let go of the illusion that we are indispensable to the running of the world. We recognize we will never finish all our goals and projects, and that God is on the throne, managing quite well in ruling the universe without our help.”
Most people take a day off. It may not be the same day every week, but employers (and possibly federal law?) usually require some sort of break so that people can rest and return to work with renewed energy.
But a day off is not the same thing as a Sabbath. You see, most people work on their day off. They may not go into the office or turn in a time-card, but their activity can still be classified as work. Household chores, paying bills, reading emails—all these things are work; the only difference is we don’t get paid for them.
When God instituted Sabbath, he didn’t do it so that we’d have extra time to get caught up on chores. He did it so that we would actually stop working and truly rest. The ancient Jews understood this (even if they didn’t always practice it); the rabbis even created all sorts of rules to make sure no one was working, to the point that Jesus and his disciples got in trouble for breaking them!
But choosing to honor the Sabbath by not engaging in any work—paid or unpaid—doesn’t have to be a legalistic thing. In fact, it can and should be a life-giving thing, a practice that reminds you of who you are in the cosmos. You’re a human being, not a human doing!
The invitation this week is to begin to identify a 24-hour block of time in which you’ll do no work, paid or unpaid. If this seems too hard, start with a smaller segment of time (4, 6, or 8 hours) and work up incrementally to a full day.
Also, I encourage you to take a moment to identify the unpaid work you usually attend to on your day off and figure out a time to do it during the week.
In the following posts, we’ll look at ways to enjoy Sabbath and get the most out of it. But before we can do that, we first have to schedule a time for Sabbath and actually stop working.
Sabbath doesn’t just happen on its own. We have to plan for it and protect it. If it was easy or came naturally, God wouldn’t have had to command it throughout Scripture. But I assure you, it’s worth it.