Saturday, February 22, 2014


Do you like leftovers?  Sometimes I do.  I realize this may offend many of you, but I love cold meatloaf.  Or cold pizza.  Under the right circumstances, bits of cold meat that came off the grill yesterday or the day before can be delectable.

But sometimes leftovers are a sad disappointment.  When you open the fridge and stand there looking, and it all looks like wilted lettuce.  If presentation is important when it comes to food, sometimes leftovers just don't make the cut.

I think that's how most of us treat the idea of "sabbath."  It's an old fashioned word, I realize, but it just means "rest."  We're called, even commanded, even created, to make rest an integral part of our schedules.  Recently I've run across a couple teachers who have pointed out that while God works and then rests (though it's arguable that there was rest going on before Genesis 1:1), humans are created and immediately move into the sabbath day (day 7 of creation) and then -- and only then -- move into a week of work.

So we work from our rest, more than we rest from our work.

But most of us, I suspect, handle the sabbath commandment like leftovers.  If we happen to have a week that's not too busy, we might get some rest (or not).  If we have a day with nothing on the schedule, we try hard to catch up on our sabbath discipline.  What's with that??  Leftovers.

I've been trying hard lately to schedule sabbath days.  It's a little tricky because I'm 1) trying to be intentional about spending my last few days -- now down to my last week -- at Central well.  Lots of good conversations, lots of good work, lots of things I want and need to do well.  All this militates against a discipline of sabbath.  At the same time, I'm 2) crazy excited to start a new job at Calvary, so when opportunities come up to meet with people or to provide input into critical decisions that will impact how we move forward in this new position, I'm incredibly eager to be a part of those things.  Mostly I've been putting things off until after March 16th, my official start date at Calvary, but sometimes things come up and I want to be in on the conversation.  So that militates against sabbath. At the same time, I'm 3) getting our house ready to go on the market (the listing goes up today, hopefully) and so Julie and I (mostly Julie, to be honest, she's amazing) have been cleaning and rearranging and painting and staging like crazy.  And at the same time I'm 4) all too eager to start looking for a house in the Cities that will be a perfect place for us to live and within easy reach of Calvary and all that, but so far we've put a lot of that off, and at the same time I'm 5) trying to fit in all the normal day-to-day stuff like doctor's and dentist's appointments, oil changes, paying bills, getting taxes ready to file, blowing snow out of the driveway, etc.

So I really don't have time for a sabbath day.

And if I continue to live that way, I experience the consequences.  Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap, right?  So I'm reaping that fuzzy, unrested thinking that so often gets me in trouble.  I'm reaping a little edge to my temper.  I'm reaping forgetfulness about important details.  I'm reaping a sense of frustration and futility.

Today, for at least a few hours, I will rest.  There are things I need to do today and I would like to put them off but some of them, at least, rise to the level of "sheep falling into a pit" items (see Matthew 12).  (I think blowing snow out of the driveway sometimes is like pulling your sheep out of a pit.  If this doesn't make sense, don't worry about it.  Chalk it up to my fuzzy thinking, or yours.)  But for the last hour and a half, I have been resting, reading my Bible, sitting with a cup of coffee and watching the shadows move across the gloriously beautiful snow on the yard and the trees.  It's quiet.  It's peaceful.  And I can sense the Spirit of God regenerating and restoring my soul.  I may not get a full sabbath day -- we'll see how close I can get -- but a little healing, a little restoration, sure beats none at all.

How do you handle sabbath?


  1. I think you are right on with the challenges as well as the need to make it a priority. Someday I hope to take Sabbath weeks, or Sabbath months. Not only is it important from a faith perspective but also from a mental and physical perspective. -TB

  2. I've been pondering your pondering today. I do have definitely what I call a Sabbath mindset. I used to think it meant I couldn't do any work at all, because, that's the Old Testamenty-sort of definition, right? But sometimes I like nothing better that to spend an entire afternoon with no obligations puttering and organizing my sewing room. To somebody else that would be work. To me, that's great fun. Then I realized that's what the Sabbath is supposed to be. A break from the "supposed to's", and a chance to indulge in the want to's" That's when I enjoy the somewhat meaningless but enjoyable pastimes that God gives me the time/money/chance to do. I thank Him, and wallow in the indulgence for the day, and face Monday with a happy grin. I have had a Sabbath rest with my Maker in the way He made me, and I am much better for it.

  3. Tony, thanks for the perspective -- and I love the idea of "sabbath months." Ramona, I first learned about this idea of sabbath being about NOT doing "what you have to do" from Mark Buchanan's book, The Rest of God. I highly recommend it. And I think you have a good sense of what he's talking about!