The things we do each day ”“ our work ”“ are good for us. We feel a sense of pride, accomplishment, and productivity through the tasks we do each day. God ordained for man to work:
- “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28, NLT).
- “Fill the earth and govern it” (verse 28).
- “Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground” (verse 28).
We are even told in Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.”
God clearly knew work was good for us. He gave man his first job opportunity, if you will. Yet those extended periods of time, when we work hard and long days, cause us to long for “a day off”. We want ”“ rest.
This got me to thinking that there is more to the idea of a sabbatical, or a rest, than meets the eye.
In Genesis 2, we are further told, “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation” (verses 2 & 3).
God made the seventh day, the Sabbath day and 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 and reserved exclusively for God. They must be withheld from ordinary (secular) use and 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, and 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 (work day) 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.
“The human person is not merely a soul housed in a body. Our bodies and souls are unified. If our bodies suffer, so do our souls. We cannot neglect the body in pursuit of spiritual growth. In fact, neglecting our bodies necessarily impedes our spiritual growth. If our bodies are not sufficiently rested, our energies will be diminished and our ability to pray, read the Bible, enter solitude or memorize Scripture will be minimized.
(from The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith, page 34)
Eugene Peterson put it this way…
“Sabbath is that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing”
(page 134, The Pastors Guide to Personal Spiritual Formation).
We all need that change from the ordinary routine. We even miss our work during this time of “rest”. But we need to take time each week for the Sabbath, for physical rest. 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.
“So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4: 9-11a NLT).