Back to Basics: Sabbath

In this series, Back to Basics, it’s my hope to shed some insight about the freedom I found in Christ through some personal stories from my early years of wrestling with fear of Old Testament law.

Back to Basics: Sabbath

When I was eight, I had a mesh baseball cap featuring Garfield the cat saying, “I live for Saturdays.” It wasn’t true. I survived Saturdays.

I lived at my grandparents’ house. They belonged to a church that I later learned was designated as a cult. I wasn’t forced to go to the church, but I was expected to obey the house rules.

One of those house rules, the Sabbath, was a doozy for a kid to handle. The Sabbath lasted from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. The Sabbath meant no television, no video games, and no playing outside or inside with friends. Basically, it meant no fun.

My grandparents went to church. I stayed at home. Alone.

Being a resourceful kid, I read all day, played with toys and listened to the radio (securing 80’s song lyrics in my head that stay with me today). I even went so far as to tape record the audio from Cheers episodes when they aired on Thursday nights so I could listen to them again on Saturday if I wanted to.

The hypocrisy. I was “obeying” the Sabbath, but I was audibly hanging out with a bunch of boozing adults at a Boston bar.

Beating the system felt good. But, I felt guilty. If Saturdays weren’t supposed to be fun, what did God think of my actions to disobey even though I was never officially told not to do something? I sure wasn’t going to tell my grandparents what I was up to. They just might take me with them to church if so.

This Sabbath rebellion only lasted until my grandparents came back from church later in the afternoon. From that point, freedom in the form of sundown was only a couple of hours away.

Thankfully, things changed after moving to Texas with my mother. You never saw a kid enjoy Saturdays with more gusto. Though I didn’t have the Garfield hat anymore, I could now understand him.

Saturdays, man. Life.

Despite the long hours alone, the strange church with the strange rules, the lost time of not getting to enjoy Saturdays outside, it wasn’t until later that I realized God’s protection through it all.

Most of the friends I would have played with were starting to go down some dark roads during that time. On Saturdays, I was incubated from the trouble they were getting into at a young age that led to some of the bigger trouble they would get into later.

I also developed a great appreciation for reading and writing. Though I couldn’t explore the streets of our North Denver neighborhood, I was able to go to Middle Earth, Narnia and other fascinating places every Saturday.

I also learned to explore creatively, coming up with solutions to keep myself entertained. I saw new possibilities I hadn’t noticed before.

These days, Sabbath isn’t a dirty word for me. I believe a holy Sabbath, one that desires to please God by removing distractions and dependencies to focus on and forfeit our will to God, is a step toward purifying our soul.

There’s something very inviting about taking time away without any distractions to focus on God. We can find value here.

Taking a Sabbath helps us identify roads that aren’t best for us. It may awaken us to roads we are on which amount to dead-ends, U-turns and ongoing round-a-bouts of uncertainty. Isaiah 42:16 promises,

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

We can develop a greater appreciation for the wisdom found in the Bible, increasing in our understanding and maturity as the Holy Spirit guides us in an adventure through chapter and verse. James 1:25 assures us, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

We can see we are better equipped than we thought when it comes to issues and challenges we are facing. As the scripture attests in Romans 8:37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

We are not bound by a certain day, time or place for a Sabbath. It is not a rule-oriented, guilt-laden activity to slog through and survive until you can get to the things you really enjoy again.

A Sabbath is enjoyed because God is at the center of our enjoyment. It is there for our protection. It is there for our maturing. It is there for our delight.

In it, we find that we can live for Saturdays and any other day of the week, too.

I am a man who loves his wife, Jessica, his daughter, Clara, his family, his friends and his church. Jesus Christ makes this all possible. He has made the difference in my life and I hope you encounter the difference He can make in yours.

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