Sabbath rest is such a much-needed part of life that we in the Western Christianity have largely ignored and at times even criticize. We live in a culture that rewards multitasking, long work hours, and an abundance of activities. Even our vacations are so busy and draining that people often say they need a vacation from their vacation. Persons who know the art of rest, rejuvenation, and Sabbath are often criticized as being lazy or weak. And yet I believe this is exactly how God has wired us.
God provided the model of Sabbath when He rested on the seventh day from all of His creating. When God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, the longest of all referred to taking a Sabbath each week. Even their fields got a Sabbath 1 out of every 7 years in order to replenish and renew. Peter Scazzero in his book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” writes: “Sabbath keeping summons us to slow down to God’s rhythm. For when we are busier than what God requires…we do violence to ourselves… And in doing violence to ourselves, we are unable to love others in and through the love of Christ.”
When we don’t take time to rest, renew & rejuvenate; our bodies, minds and spirits begin to break down. We become shells of who God created us to be. Instead of living at peace we become anxious, instead being patient we become hurried, instead of forgiving we criticize, and instead of loving we even begin to hate.
We often think that we will get more done and be more productive with less Sabbath, and yet the opposite is true. In the February 9th, 2013 edition of The New York Times Tony Schwartz writes: “A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.” People are finding out the truth of what God already put into place.
So how do we do this idea of Sabbath? Find time throughout each day to stop and be renewed by God. Take a whole day each week to be stop and rest. Take multiple simultaneous days each year to be able to listen and be refreshed by His Spirit. What should we be doing during that time? Peter Scazzero writes that we should stop, rest, delight (in his creation, other people, play) and contemplate (focus on God). While this can happen anywhere, Crossroads has provided Deep Woods (cabins, prayer walk & trails) for this very reason.
Begin with small steps so that it won’t be an overwhelming experience that soon goes by the wayside. Learn from others that are practicing it well. Just do something, and by that, I mean at some point stop doing and rest.