Practicing Sabbath : "Perimeter" (Part Two)
Updated: Apr 13
*This series builds upon one another so if you haven't read Part One, I’d suggest you start there.
Hello again. I trust your week has been well. I've been pondering on Jesus' goodness from my green "Sabbath Scene" throughout the week. He reminded me, on this journey, that my name "Abigail Lee" means "The Father's Joy in Meadows Green." HA! And I wonder why He's anchored my soul in the perimeter of Sabbath living. Meanings of words are so powerful. God is not just a brilliant creator of things but also of story. His wit with words, and ability to navigate narratives through generations and universes and kingdoms all to connect to our heart, gives me such a rush! Clearly I am a lover of words.
The purest form of the word Sabbath means "To Stop". We are currently teaching Oliver, our energetic one year old son, how to stop. If he had it his way, he would never stop for food or naps or baths or cuddles. He would wiggle and wobble (we're not quite to running yet), play, explore, and go go go all day every day. He's learning that when mom or dad says, "It's time to stop..." it does not mean keep going, or even go slowly, it means stop. God created the world and then on the 7th day He stopped. Why did He stop? Was it because He was exhausted? Doubtful. He's God. He stopped to call it good. He stopped to behold and enjoy the beauty. Because the reason He created was for communion.
In knowing the human nature that He created, He knew our tendency to always want to go, and do. There is good in going and doing, however it can be an easy trap to value creation over communion. And the whole purpose of all of this is friendship with God. So He strategically created a space to stop. He formed in the "plan" a holy pause for His people to stop looking over the fence at the greener grass next door and behold the beauty, the goodness, of friendship with God. Sabbath, throughout generations of Jews, like most things, became a long list of rules. In irony, simply became another place of "doing". But when I peel back layers of laws and scriptures, at the core of God's heart for "Sabbath" what I have found, is it is a place, and more so a pace that is a gift. Sabbath is more than a day. It is a way. God's holy way to put His hands on our cheeks and gaze deeply into our eyes and whisper "Let's dine. Let's talk. Let's be friends." It's the same way I pick Oliver up, to take him out of his scene of toys that distract him, so that my face becomes the only thing He sees. Then I can smile and love and giggle and be with him in a pure way. During Sabbath, we leave our chaotic distracted world and gather with The Lord for focus and friendship. I will go into practicals next week on how our family has decided to carve out special "Sabbath time" and what that looks like as a New Testament follower and friend of Jesus. But the gift of the boundary of my "Sabbath Scene" is a forced place to build my friendship with Jesus. For me it happens individually every morning, and as a family a few times throughout the week. Just as a heart has a beat, "Sabbath Living" has become the rhythm of my life. A heart posture that keeps my eyes up. You see, we are all little Olivers in many ways. We can find ways to keep going, dig up reasons to keep buying, and plot up schemes to keep doing. And yet our good good Father, knows what we need (body, soul, mind, and spirit). When we break down (or ignore) the boundary of sabbath, we have : mental breakdowns... physical breakdowns... ministry breakdowns...family breakdowns....etc. Sabbath is a HOLY BOUNDARY to keep our hearts balanced with eternity. It also keeps us sane. (Ha! Just being blunt here.)
I sadly see Christians, ministries, and families running themselves 24/7. Living off of caffeine and energy drinks. Getting 3-4 hours of sleep a night. Exchanging meaningful time for fellowship for crammed events and fast pace parties. Coming home completely wiped and having nothing left to give to God or family..... and on and on and on it goes.
And we wonder why our "Christian Culture" is burned out, mentally fried, socially shallow, and drowning in anxiety and stress. We have taken out the "Holy Stop" that God has created and blessed and called Holy. We adhear to Holy Scripture, and Holy Spirit but what about honoring and adhering to the Holy Sabbath? We have, in exchange, trained our brains, our bodies, our souls for constant consummation instead of constant communion. We have buldozed through the boundary of "stop" and posted it as a badge of success. We should be repenting. Our burned out busy does not reflect the character of Christ. And that in the core is the urgent cringe that I have. If we don't learn how to talk to God, we will settle for simply talking about God. If we don't learn how to be still and satisfied, we will exchange the holy value of self-sacrifice for a self-absorbed Christianity that only wants "more" Instead of being content in Christ. There is a LONG list of "nos" for Sabbath, but in simplicity Sabbath is designed as a time where you refrain from four things:
It forces you to prepare, to store, and to look around and say, "Wow, I have all that I need." My company with Jesus is more important than the consumption of the World, which is why I'll gladly dwell within the walls of Sabbath for this moment. It takes us out of a culture of "I need" and places us in the presence of the "I Am". Exodus 20:8-11, "“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." So many other thoughts (My research document still has about 6 pages to sort through) but my Oliver has woken up from a nap. So where my heart will stay connected to my "Sabbath Scene", my legs need to prepare to nature walk with a wiggly sweet blonde-headed boy. (These are delightful days for me, my friends.) Same time next week? We'll dive into the posture of Sabbath and look at some practical views of this abstract "Sabbath Scene" I keep talking about. Gaze Up Fellow Friends, Abby