Last week my “sabbatical” started. Now I know that I have been saying how I was looking forward to this. I was. I have been physically tired for a while now & I wanted a rest. But then, the first afternoon, it hit me – I missed Sophia. I missed the things we do together, hearing her voice, playing with her, our routine.
And this got me to thinking….
There is more to the idea of a sabbatical or a rest than meets the eye.
It obviously was not that I objected to what I do each day – my “work”. The things we do each day – our work – are good for us. We feel a sense of pride, accomplishment & productivity through the tasks we do each day, our work. God ordained for man to work:
- “Be fruitful & increase in number” (Genesis 1:28)
- “fill the earth & subdue it” (verse 28)
- rule over the fish of the sea & birds of the air & over every living creature that moves on the ground” (verse 28)
We are even told in Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & take care of it.”
God clearly knew that work was good for us. He gave man his first job, if you will. Yet those extended periods of time, when we work hard & long days, causes us to long for “a day off”. We want – rest.
In Genesis 2, we are further told, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day & had made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating he had done.” (verses 2 & 3).
God made the seventh day, the sabbath day & He made it holy. According to the Old Testament Lexical Aids (page 1546 of the Key Word Study Bible), this means to…
“declare as holy, treat as holy. Essentially denotes being pure or devoted to God. Signifies an act or a state in which people or things are set aside & reserved exclusively for God. They must be withheld from ordinary (secular) use & treated with special care as something which belongs to God. Defilement makes a sanctified object unusable.”
We enter our churches each Sabbath Day to worship our God, to remember Who He is & the things He has done. We set that day aside for this very purpose. But something happens to us as well as we enter the Sabbath – we recharge. We gain perspective. We withhold ourselves from the ordinary (workday) to treat ourselves to the extraordinary (worshiping God). These times of “sabbath” keep us from becoming unusable. It is how we are enabled to keep our game on. It is how we maintain our edge.
Eugene Peterson put it this way…
“Sabbath as that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing” (pg. 134, The Pastors Guide to Personal Spiritual Formation).
I needed to read this. It is perfectly normal to miss what I do during this time of “rest”. We all need that change from the ordinary routine. May we take time each week for the Sabbath. May we take time this summer to rest. May we find ourselves refueled, motivated anew, refocused – usable in unique ways. May we take time to see what God is doing in our lives, in our families, in our churches, around us. May we see Him.
“There remains then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…”. (Hebrews 4: 9-11a NIV).