Our culture is constantly going about a million miles per hour if you haven’t noticed already. Chances are, you’re skimming through this post as fast as possible to get to the next one or the next item on your to-do list to check it off. Besides, who doesn’t want to check items off of their list in order to “get things done?”
Productivity and going 24/7 is often applauded in many areas, especially within the workplace. We have devices everywhere and social media has provided a way to feel constantly connected, even though most of us by now realize it doesn’t count as real relationships at the end of the day.
Whatever it may be, we are busy. The problem that occurs though in our culture of busyness is that followers of Christ are not called to be “on” 24/7 and to never pause and take a rest. In fact, we are commanded to take a sabbath and rest in the Lord. Why? I’m convinced because we not only need the physical rest, but spiritually we need to be reminded that God is in control, not us. We need to grow in our dependance on Him, not in our independence and superiority of ourselves.
If you don’t make a regular practice of this, look at re-evaluating your schedule and working it in each and every week. At the end of the day, God will accomplish His will with our without you and invites you to be a part of it. Trust Him, be obedient to Him, and rest.
Here are 5 practical ways to rest and take a sabbath:
1. Plan Some Time To Do Nothing
We need time very week that is unplanned and unstructured (some people are going crazy just reading that) where you can do whatever you feel like doing. This may sound boring, but the problem is if you fill up your sabbath with planned activities, you will be just as tired when you finish. Don’t work too hard at filling up your day of rest, just go with the flow and see how God leads you in the process.
2. Plan Some Time For Activities Pleasing To You
While it is wise at times not to plan for everything on your day of rest, it’s also a great idea to actually plan something. Keep in mind that it might require some planning and structure to make them happen. Tim Keller talks about these elements in terms of avocational activity:
- You need some contemplative rest. Prayer and worship are a critical part of sabbath rest, from any perspective. Regular time for devotion, reading the Scripture, and listening to God forms the basis for inner rest and provides time away from the more exhausting exertions of life.
- You need some recreational rest. The Puritans and others were rightly skeptical of recreations that required spending a great deal of money and time and exertion, because those types of recreations exhaust people. Be careful that recreation really refreshes.
- You need to include aesthetic rest. Expose yourself to works of God’s creation that refresh and energize you, and that you find beautiful. This may mean outdoor things. It may mean art—music, drama, and visual art. God looked around at the world he made and said it was good, so aesthetic rest is necessary for participating in God’s Sabbath fully.
3. Plan Some Time Based On Your Personality
Some of us are introverts, while others are extroverts. Whatever refreshes you at the end of the day will do, in terms of rest. Extroverts will be refreshed being around a lot of people and might want to consider spending some free time out within the community while introverts will be refreshed typically with some alone time.
Whatever it is, take some to evaluate yourself to determine what would refresh you the most. Don’t act like taking the sabbath has to look the same for everyone, it’s unique to how God has wired you.
4. Plan Some Time Outside of Your Family
Sometimes we feel like if we just stay at home with our families, then that counts as our sabbath. Don’t get me wrong, spending time with family is crucial and is needed more in our culture, but there’s a difference between resting with family, and keeping up with the same family responsibilities you do all throughout the week.
While is is very possible spending with with family could be rest, be on guard for this and consider spending some time outside of typical family responsibilities to be refreshed.
5. Plan Some Time For Smaller and Larger Sabbaths
Depending on the season of life you find yourself in, consider the fact that your time of rest might need to be extended to more than one day. Sometimes you might only be able to spare the single day as well.
We are all in different situations and scenarios – some are starting new jobs, having kids for the first time, becoming empty nesters, just finished a major year or project, etc. I think the more time you spend with the Lord, the better chance you have at hearing from Him in regards to how much rest you need at the moment. Just don’t get sucked into thinking that taking the sabbath only means 24 hours, it may be more than that.
Taking a sabbath is a command for a reason and we must be careful not only to wear ourselves out, but to not sin in the process. When we don’t rest, we proclaim we’re stronger than we really are and forget God’s in control. Take some time to rest and pray, asking God how you need to repent, and start taking a sabbath week after week.