5 Reasons I Still Struggle with Sabbath

When we live a blurred and hurried life, at the core of our busyness is an illusion that kills the life within us!Ever since I was a boy, I heard about the 10 Commandments.  Most of them made sense but one still messes with me until this very day. Here are five reasons I still struggle with Sabbath:

  1. I still believe in the illusion that I don’t need to stop.

As a type “A” personality, I have to face it: Going is better than stopping. Doing more seems more doable than doing less. Pausing, stopping, ceasing and resting are not in my mother tongue’s vocabulary. I speak “Let’s get ‘ur done!” Since working hard was modeled for me as a boy by the men in my life, I absorbed an ethos that I now see, decades later, has wreaked havoc in my soul and done violence to my life by choosing to always to more—not less—at least one day a week. 

  1. I sometimes do not believe in the sovereignty of God.

 When you stop for one day a week, we are given the opportunity to lean into the sovereignty of God. I take my hands off the plow, off the keyboard; off the gear-shift of my high octane life and let go of trying to control my life. Sabbath gives us one day a week to take the hands off of the control shift of our life and to surrender to the spiritual act of letting go. I have to face the fact that in my core, I want control more than I want to let go. To practice letting go—for one day a week—is perhaps an ultimate sign that you really do trust God more than you trust yourself. 

  1. I don’t really believe in my well-being. I believe in my well doing more!

 Doing more always costs us. Always being “on” and always being “available” costs a person their well-being. When we are in our 20’s and 30’s we push and strive. We achieve and perform. In our 40’s we begin to question this credo—yet secretly because we don’t want to be labeled “normal” or average. If we do more, then perhaps we believe, we can finally arrive. But well-being is state of being that requires a day a week to cease; to enjoy—to delight in something other than work and performance. 

  1. It’s easier to work than to rest.

 Keeping a day as a Sabbath is one of the 10 Commandments. God knew from the beginning that we would work, strive and live by the sweat of our brow. So when we practice Sabbath—we are practicing one of the oldest spiritual practices ever given and known to humanity. Just as we are told not to kill, steal and cheat on our spouses, we are told to rest one day a week. To choose to practice Sabbath is to intentionally chose to resist our culture. [tweetthis]Sabbath keeping, for me, is counter cultural as well as counter-intuitive.[/tweetthis] Sabbath keeping does not make sense to so many of us. As we lean into this ancient practice, we soon realize that God’s ways are truly not our ways. We would never cease; never stop; never Sabbath and that is our undoing. It has been my undoing in my life, my fathering and my being a husband. When I practice Sabbath, I am reminding myself “I do not want to be undone any more. “ Sabbath helps me really live. 

  1. Money seems more powerful than trust.

 At the root of Sabbath is the power of mammon—money. God’s intent in helping us rest is to help us put money in perspective. Money is not really everything. Money does not define us when we are burned out and used up. The rival God of the 21st century is money and Sabbath keeping deflates the over-inflated ego of the dollar—no matter what currency you use. When we Sabbath—note I uses this as a verb and not a noun—we live with bigger goals in mind and heart. Money intoxicates the soul. Sabbath puts everything into perspective. When we Sabbath, we live smaller lives and being small, one day a week is a very good thing for the soul.  For more help on Sabbath and living a rhythm of life that sustains you, and doesn't drain you, please get and read Chapter 5 of Inside Job: "Exposing the Lie of Being Balanced." Order the book here and get started!  Order Inside Job and the accompanying workbook here!

A Key to Experiencing the Abundant Life is Rhythm

Living in rhythm—and the commitment to live life in a sustainable rhythm will help you avoid burnout, experience despair, and running your life on empty.In choosing to live in rhythm you are accepting a different cadence in life than the one which says: Get! Achieve! Acquire! Do!  That kind of rhythm over the long haul leads to the front doors of burnout and failure.  By developing a more life-giving rhythm, you will need to explore a few foundational realities: 

  1. Every living thing has a rhythm to it. The birds migrate. The sea ebbs and flows in tidal rhythm. A woman’s body has a biological rhythm and the farmer knows the rhythm of the seasons to plant the crops.
  2. Rhythm is found in the Bible in the opening chapters of Genesis when we read that God created the world in six days and on the seventh—he ceased from all his work. The kingpin of a system of living in rhythm begins with the Sabbath rhythm. Work six days and one day is totally off—completely ceasing from all work related activities.
  3. The Judeo-Christian faith was built upon a system of rhythm, festivals and experiences that allowed people to look FORWARD in anticipation because they knew Sabbath, or some festival or celebration was just around the corner. It also allowed them to reflect BACKWARD in appreciation of how good their time off was; how nurturing; how life-giving; how fun.
  4. The early church embraced this rhythm as is evidenced in the Apostles praying in rhythm at certain times and in observing special seasons and times that morphed into living in a liturgical calendar. For example, this Sunday is regarded as Pentecost Sunday. It’s the day Christians world-wide remember the coming of the Spirit and how the Spirit emboldens our lives and we now live with the Spirit of God living in us.

We've violated rhythm today. We're always on. We're always available. We're always working. Just yesterday two major news magazines featured articles on how Americans do not take their vacations because they'd rather work. Here's a link to one: Business Journal ArticleI discuss this more in The Jesus Life (Chapter 4).  The reality of rhythm is this regardless of your experience in living in rhythm or having never heard of what I am discussing here. Rhythm was modeled by God, lived out in the Old Testament era, anchored by Jesus through his own life style as recorded by Luke and embraced by the New Testament church. By the time of the industrial and technological revolution, we are now always “on,” always, “available,” and always, “wired.” We never quit.It was life giving for me to take our dog Laz to the Vet recently due an ear infection. We arrived at 12:30 thinking we would be seen by the next available doctor. However the sign on the door simply said, “Our office is closed from 12:00pm-2:00pm each day” Please come back during regular office hours. I could have gotten mad and irritated thinking, “I’ll go somewhere else that really wants my money and will stay open in this 24/7 world we live in.” But I smiled. I imagined how nice it would be to be on staff of this large vet clinic who closed each day for lunch, allowing employees run errands and more.We have much wrong in our way of looking at reality. Rhythm is the key to living a sustainable, enjoyable life which we might learn to experience as the abundant life; not the exhausted life. ---------------------------Let me encourage to get and read The Jesus Life as one of your TOP summer reads. It's filled with practical suggestions and resources to help you foster and develop a sense of abundance in your life right now. We're offering a special right now. We'll pay the shipping plus send a free book, Embracing Soul Care--which is a daily devotional reading on how to care for your soul. ---------------Download for FREE the chapter on Living in Rhythm from the Jesus Life!  Go to: www.myjesuslife.com

Sabbath Keeping

"The truth is, sabbath keeping is a discipline that will mess with you, because once you move beyond just thinking about it and actually begin to practice it, the goodness of it will capture you, body, soul and spirit...during the week, your whole self will strain toward the sabbath with thoughts like "I know I can make it because the sabbath is coming." You will emerge from sabbath with renewed energy and hop thinking, I can face my life now because I have rested. The sabbath will become the centerpiece of your work, the kingpin of your spiritual rhythms. And when even an hour of it is robbed from you, you will grieve its loss. When you miss it, it will hurt."--Barton in Spiritual Rhythms.To re-read these passages is a slow wake up call from a sense of urgency that has captivated me since we are now into the full new year. I look at my schedule and sigh--then say, "How can I possibly do all of this? What was I thinking when I committed to all of these things?"  Then I remember that Sabbath is God's provision for me to work hard-pour my heart out and give out to others. Because on the sabbath--it is I who will be given to.Now now the giving to me has begun.  A sabbath mood is in the Inn. We are here alone. Fire in the fireplace. A sabbath walk and life giving friends coming over for dinner. We need this day because tomorrow the work begins with two couples who are flying in from different parts of the world. They are nervous, scared probably at what they've gotten themselves into in committing to come--to do a soul care intensive. So we need this sabbath to serve them well. To give to them deeply. To raise up the chalice of our own lives and say, "O God fill this fragile vessel with all you will this sabbath day!"