THE HEALING POWER OF SABBATH REST
God made you alive with Christ.
He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness,
which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities,
he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink,
or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
These are a shadow of the things that were to come;
the reality, however, is found in Christ
[Colossians 2: 13-17].
CARVING OUT SABBATH TIME
Many people find setting aside one day a week for Sabbath rest is really beneficial. The Hebrew day starts at sunset and finishes at sunset the following day. For many years my husband & I followed a similar pattern, starting a weekly Rest Day with a special evening meal; for the next 24 hours no work was undertaken, appliances were silent, and meals were simply prepared. It became a much anticipated time of refreshment; then irregular shifts and family responsibilities intervened, and we adjusted our plans to suit the new circumstances.
Our Sabbath Rest became a mixture of full days and half-days, slotted in at different times during each month. Sometimes we spent these together, or with other family members, at other times we were alone with the Lord; but were usually engaged with one or more of the activities mentioned in these posts.
If fitting in a full day’s rest seems an impossibility in your particular circumstances, consider setting aside shorter periods at regular intervals; perhaps a half-day, or a morning, an afternoon or an evening. Finding some way of marking the start of designated Sabbath time, for example by lighting a candle, eating a special meal, or changing out of work clothes, can be a really helpful way of moving from busyness to rest.
BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS
It is good to mark beginnings and endings with Sabbath time. For example, when I reached our first anniversary of living in a new location, I went for a long walk on the local beach to reflect on the year’s events and its many blessings; and to pray for the year to come. I came home from my Sabbath walk filled with thanksgiving. It is also my practice to do this each year at the beginning of January.
Similarly, it is good to take time at the beginning or end of key events, festivals or busy periods: Christmas, Easter, weddings, retirement, a change of employment, parenthood etc. This designated time out stops us being swept along in the general frenzy of activity which characterises so much of western living, and gives us opportunity to reflect, plan and pray; time to hear the Lord, to be filled with thanksgiving, time to finish well.
WEEKENDS OR LONGER
After or during a particularly busy or stressful period, it is sometimes necessary to extend our Sabbath time into a whole weekend or longer. In one such period, my husband and I would take time away at intervals in a cottage holiday: the mornings were spent individually, alone with the Lord, the afternoons and evenings enjoying each other’s company, and the surrounding area. These Sabbath Getaways were life-savers during a challenging time.
Unless we work night shift, nocturnal hours also give opportunity for regular time when we are refreshed, body, soul and spirit. Applying some of the Sabbath principles discussed in earlier posts enables us to get the most out of our sleep-time: by preparing for sleep by reviewing the day; giving thanks for the blessings and receiving forgiveness for the failures; by laying down worries and praying for the challenges of the next day; by reading the Word and asking for revelation during sleep. By centring our thoughts again on Jesus, and asking the wind of the Holy Spirit to blow over us as we rest, we can turn our sleep into more than natural refreshment, we can turn it into a Sabbath.
And then there’s the potential Sabbath Moments which sprinkle our weeks; the half–hours here and there when things are just quiet. A road trip or bus journey, waiting in the car for a family member, luxuriating in the bath tub, quiet morning moments before housemates are up; a lunchtime walk.... Each of these ordinary time-periods gives the opportunity to create something special – a Sabbath Moment.
Sabbath isn’t a day religiously observed, because we ought to; Sabbath is a lifestyle – a life punctuated by grace-moments, when heaven touches earth .....
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