“For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said: ‘You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence.'” -Isaiah 30:15 HCSB
I've been catching up on forgotten podcasts lately, and this particular episode of Megan Tietz's Sorta Awesome show really resonated with me, as one of the hosts discussed the concept of Sabbath. We're commanded by God to observe the Sabbath, but as this episode uncovers, many of us have no idea what that looks like.
Kelly, the guest host of the episode, explained how the word used in the Bible when referring to God resting after creating the world really means to sit back, reflect, and delight in the results of one's work. She says as it's important to create room in one's schedule to observe the Sabbath, it also takes cultivating a Sabbath heart. It's not enough to just set aside time, we need to actively engage in the process of resting by setting aside everything else competing for our attention and waging war on our hearts.
As my goal for this year is to rest, I found this focus on cultivating a Sabbath heart to be really interesting. It challenged my ideas of what Sabbath is and what it isn't. Kelly, the host, quoted Dan Allender who wrote a book on the topic, saying Sabbath is not a break from routine, a chance to find respite before going back to our "normal" lives, but an encounter with God.
Sabbath rest is:
- Rest-- a break from work. This requires slowing down, acknowledging our weariness, our busyness, and being still. In order to do this, we actually have to stop running around and working, right in the middle of the chaos, to take a break from the crazy.
- Restoration-- to heal the fractured pieces of our souls. It's only when we rest and take a break that we give ourselves the opportunity to grow. We need seasons and moments of rest to prepare for seasons and moments of activity.
- Reflection-- taking a look at what's going on in our hearts and lives. We are to listen carefully and watch intentionally to see things that are happening all around us.
- Rhythmic-- regularly returning to rest. Making rest a part of ordinary life makes it more of who we are in the deepest parts of our hearts. Making moments of rest a regular part of our lives demonstrates its importance and teaches us to incorporate it in every season of life.
- Remembrance-- re-member, to put back together the image of who we really are. In the midst of a world that tries to tell us so many lies about who we are, we must regularly return to God's truth about who we really are.
Sabbath also means delighting in life. We need a break from our adult responsibilities to enjoy the things we love-- whether that means taking a nap, reading a good book, going for a run, cooking up a storm in the kitchen, or getting outside in the sunshine. It's giving ourselves permission to set aside all the things we ought to do, and enter into a time of truly enjoying whatever activity will bring us joy.
Life is meant to be more than just day-to-day drudgery. In a world where hard work and ambition are highly praised, it's all too easy to think taking time to just enjoy life, beauty, stillness, and the things that bring us pleasure is lazy or wasteful or unproductive. But these are the things that give us life, and we need to revel in them to gain the strength we need to carry on. Let us each cultivate a Sabbath heart and set aside time to rest.