Monday, August 31, 2009

The Spiritual Discipline of Sabbath

It's hard to believe it's been a whole week since I last posted. It has, of course, been an adjustment time for me, getting the hang of the new rhythm of school and managing my own work. On Wednesday, I listened to the Mars Hill teaching podcast, like a I normally do. And something happened to me that day that poked a very large hole in the multiple layers of plastic wrap that have been keeping me in a very air-tight place for a long time. These are some of the words and phrases I heard that day:


dangerously tired
self sufficient
self grandiosity


"Light a candle alone or with friends. Let each you speak about those things that are left to do. And as the candle burns, allow the cares to melt away. Do not be anxious about tomorrow, said Jesus. The worries of today are sufficient for today. Whatever remains to do, let it be. It will not get done tonight. In Sabbath time, we take our hand off the plow, and allow God and the earth care for what is needed. Let it be."

"I didn't know what to do with the longing that thoughts about sabbath stirred in me."

"If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest, illnesses become our sabbath" Wayne Muller.


how would it change me to trust God with one day a week?

living inside the limits of human limitations

It was a woman who taught that day. I sincerely doubt that I would have taken a man as seriously. There was something about hearing it from another wife and mother, someone who takes her calling seriously, finds her work satisfying and is good at it...I could actually listen to her and not dismiss her.

Sometime in the past 5 years, I stopped believing in Sabbath. The only one of the ten commandments not specifically reiterated in the New Testament, I would say glibly, "Jesus is our Sabbath rest" not even sure what that really meant. And during that time, I have ramped my way up to a person who regularly struggles with insomnia and powerful anxiety, who has learned to ignore the disappointed look on my husband's face when I escape from his embrace with a "I have to go get some stuff done." I am a person who's self-talk says something like this: "Being industrious all the time is the way to be a person that matters." Being a workaholic is an acceptable vice. And being legalistic about working on Sunday is so old-school.

And then I heard these words. And the Holy Spirit whispered, "You've been trying to do it all by yourself. You're not that strong. You are limited."

Do you know what the speaker went on to say? That you honor God when you rest from your work. That you show that you trust him by giving your time. Not your time to clean the church or help in the church office or be there early to make coffee. But your time to rest.

Do you know when people are most likely to shop online? And ask questions about how much it will cost to ship this or that thing to Malaysia? Do you know how often I click in just to check on things...answer a quick question....and become engrossed in business?

I wrote about Sunday long ago. I think I was actually on to something back then. I just didn't know what I was mourning.

I spent all week wrestling with God about it. Arguing with Robb. Listening to the sermon again. A day without buying or selling. A day without toil. A day to be protected. Looking for an out. Finding none. Backing down. Planning to rest. To rest profoundly on Sunday.

Saturday was one of the most productive days I have had since I can remember. I climbed into clean sheets after a warm shower with a glass of wine. All the laundry was done. The house was clean. The kids were clean. Their rooms were clean...ish. We did yardwork. I made a time-line for the move. I organized my mosaic-dish supply. I listed twice as much in my store. It was that amazing Saturday night feeling I hadn't had in a very, very long time. I was ready to rest.

Do you know what kinds of things are traditionally encouraged on the Sabbath? Worship. Eating. Naps. Reading for pleasure. Being with friends. Doing whatever makes you feel most alive. Having sex with your spouse.

As I look over the calendar, I feel a sort of exhilarated terror at the thought of purposefully not working one day of every one of the incredibly hectic weeks to come. Painting at the new house, business trips, a craft show, a move, church meetings, school schedules, regular every-day tasks...it is all looming large on our horizon. I
joked to Robb that I must be crazy to be attempting to incorporate a Sabbath into my life right now.

But I am. Care to join me?

7 comments:

Robb said...

I'm in.

tammi nowack said...

wow.
This post came and just the right time. I seriously needed to hear this one.

I wish you were my neighbor and we could be friends. :)

Kara Witham said...

I enjoyed reading this post.

Keri said...

Ah, yes. Sabbath rest. Something that I wrestle all the time. Your words are encouraging, scary, and motivating! There is a book called "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality" by Pete Scazzero. I highly recommend it for your sabbath pursuits. I really don't tell a lot of people about this book...It was very meaningful to me, and I feel like the people I tell about it should have a desire to understand it's content. So yeah. Keep us(your blog readers) posted on how it's going... and know that we(me and my fam) are on the journey with you(failing a lot of times, but pursuing a day of rest each week nonetheless).

jess said...

This makes me think about a bit of conversation from a while back about why women in our season of life are so stressed, sick, etc. I think you are on to something too. I've always used the kids as an excuse - I mean who can rest with little ones around - plus I need to make sure THEY are happy so I can't possibly be "off" in anyway - although I'm always perfectly happy to work while they are around and not worry about how they are doing. Anyway, all that to say - I'm with you. Does it have to be Sunday? What do you think? I think that would be impossible for us. I think Saturday would be a good day for us though.

jess said...

This makes me think about a bit of conversation from a while back about why women in our season of life are so stressed, sick, etc. I think you are on to something too. I've always used the kids as an excuse - I mean who can rest with little ones around - plus I need to make sure THEY are happy so I can't possibly be "off" in anyway - although I'm always perfectly happy to work while they are around and not worry about how they are doing. Anyway, all that to say - I'm with you. Does it have to be Sunday? What do you think? I think that would be impossible for us. I think Saturday would be a good day for us though.

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow. Now I have to wrestle with this for a while...cause Sunday is totally my clean everything up day! And believe you me, it needs cleaned up!

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