By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
I have the privilege and responsibility of choosing the Bible Studies for one of our women’s groups at church. The topic this year has been the Holy Spirit — who He is, what He does, how He shows up in my life. We are finishing up the year with Priscilla Shirer’s study, Breathe. In the frantic busyness of this time of year, I thought it would be a good subject.
The creation story is one of the more familiar Bible stories. We can all imagine God creating the heavens, earth, animals, and man. But the new concept, for me, is that God didn’t just finish his work, was tired, and then created the Sabbath. No, He created the Sabbath rest as a gift, in of itself. He, obviously didn’t need to rest but He knew we do. And it wasn’t just the next day in the week, it was a blessed and holy day.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, a twentieth-century Jewish rabbi and author, wrote that on the seventh day God created “tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose.” Those are words that I don’t necessarily associate with the Sabbath. I go into the legalistic “to do or not do” list. In fact, I had forgotten some things at the grocery last Saturday and needed them first thing on Monday. I debated about going on Sunday afternoon..thoughts running around in my head about whether it was the right thing to do on the Sabbath.
So, if the Sabbath is not a list of rules but a lifestyle of rest, calm, and peacefulness, why wouldn’t we embrace it immediately? Why do we ignore the necessary margin so vital to our well-being?
Habit. Work. Competition. Schedule. Family. Sports. Pride. Control. Making rest a priority may require a separate notation on the calendar — you have to plan for it. I guarantee it won’t just happen. And, I don’t think it’s necessarily the day, Saturday. Some people have to work on Saturdays, ie. medical, emergency, police, fire, and pastors to name a few. Yet, many of us use that day to catch up from a busy week resulting in another day of work.
The whole point is to be intentional. Make some time for yourself to just breathe. It doesn’t have to be a whole day. Every person’s down time is different: it may be a walk, a latte with a good book, a walk through the mall, listening to a podcast or music, taking a nap. Depending on the stage of life, this may be easier for some and others shake their heads (sorry Mama, it will get better.) Whatever it looks like for you, do it.
Remember that God has given you the Sabbath for your good and with His blessing. Enjoy…and breathe.