The alarm on my phone is far more cheerful than I feel. No swiping for a snooze today. Since the kids are older, the pace is less frenetic, but we still have much to do before we lock the door behind us. We always leave late despite my best efforts. I carry my coffee to the car in my regular ceramic cup rather than taking time to transfer it to something with a lid.

I try to quiet my mind on the drive, and we’re careful not to argue or fuss at the children regardless of how the morning went. We split from the kids as soon as we walk through the church doors.

Worship is good. We love our church: the songs are meaningful, the images uplifting, and the pastor’s message penetrating with the right amount of humor thrown in.

Church finishes late so often that I’ve mentally changed the end time. We’re hungry, and the kitchen is crowded with everyone making a sandwich or heating up some leftovers. We eat as we finish preparing our own meals, as if in shifts.

Saturday was super-busy, so I have a couple of projects to complete and sometimes the kids still have homework. My husband watches a little football on TV.

Our house group comes over at 5 pm, so I need to clean up the mess in the kitchen before I make another with whatever we’re eating tonight. A shout toward the other end of the house: “Someone who’s not doing homework, come sweep the living room please!” My husband wipes up the bathroom. (He’s awesome.)

Our guests leave sometime after seven o’clock. There’s a spill in the dining room and a pile of dishes despite our use of paper plates. Once I finish cleaning up, I plop onto the couch with a cold (or hot, depending on the time of year) drink. All I want to do is watch something on TV so I don’t fall asleep too early because Monday is already breathing down my neck.

Where is holiness
in my Sunday schedule?

Isn’t Sunday supposed to be the Sabbath? Where is my Sabbath? Where is holiness in my Sunday schedule, my list-prone pace? In this so-called “Lord’s Day,” where did I stop to reconnect with Him? With my own soul?

Before you unload your favorite time management tips on me, let me just say, I’ve tried them all.

I’ve been challenged recently by my lack of rest. Not lack of sleep (although I could probably use more of that, too) but mental and spiritual rest that recharges my soul for life in this fallen world.

I don’t have a clear answer for what Sabbath is or how to achieve it in the 21st century, but I have determined four things Sabbath is not. And I have a start on what it may be (more on that next week).

  1. Sabbathing is not about entertainment. Entertainment is easy. We sit back while someone or something else pours sights and sounds into our minds. It makes us feel good, but those good feelings rarely last more than five minutes after the show (of whatever sort) finishes. There’s no reconnection with our Lord. Entertainment isn’t inherently evil or sinful, but we need to evaluate it in light of the purpose of Sabbath.
  2. Sabbathing is not about being lazy or sleeping. When we’re sleeping, we don’t use our minds. When we just sit around with no purpose (usually accompanied by entertainment), we’re not helping our bodies, our spirits, or our minds. We’re not reconnecting with our Lord.

Maybe you’re so physically exhausted that you do need a nap before you can engage in anything else. I don’t think that’s wrong. The refreshing that comes from physical rest will help you engage with God on mental and spiritual levels later.

  1. Sabbathing is not just going to church. A Sabbath isn’t something we mark off our list of spiritual disciplines. Time at church should refresh us and help us reconnect, but modern services (in my experience) don’t give us space to relax, to breathe in the goodness of God. Like a possible nap, let’s make church a part of our Sabbath, not the whole.
  2. Sabbathing is not necessarily about recreation. Having fun, playing sports or otherwise being active, playing a game (especially with our kids!)—these can be refreshing because they allow us to use our minds differently. They may have a place in our Sabbath plans, but they can’t comprise the entire Sabbath.

How does this fit into Sabbath?
The answer depends on intent
and attitude.

The question is a personal one of intent and attitude. I love to run. It clears my mind and (surprisingly) physically refreshes me, so I may include a good run in a Sabbath plan. But if the run becomes the goal or if I’m running for sinful reasons (e.g. pride, comparison with others, etc.), then I would need to leave that out of my Sabbath.

It seems I’ve bitten off more than I can chew when it comes to Sabbath! Come back next week for…

  • What Sabbathing can and should mean in our lives today (with biblical connections).
  • A few ideas on how to create Sabbath space in our everyday lives.

In the meantime, here’s my short, working definition to think about this week:

The Sabbath is for purposeful rest.

Sabbathing: Why ‘Sunday’ and ‘Sabbath’ are not the same thing, at least not for me. My #Sabbath habits should be #NotAboutMe via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

Do you struggle with setting time aside for purposeful rest? What does “Sabbath” mean (or not mean) to you? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll integrate your answers into part 2 on Sabbath!

23 thoughts on “Sabbathing: Is that a word?

  1. To me, Sabbath is a time to remember that our true home is wherever God is, and to choose to “go home” to God and spend time in God’s lap. We set aside daily tasks so we can slow down enough to notice God’s goodness and heart in the people and blessings around us and to rest in the joy and comfort of knowing we are God’s beloved.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree with your four points. I went to Israel last May and got to go to a Shabbot (Sabbath) meal. Our Sabbaths are nothing like they practice. We could learn a lot from the way the Orthodox Jew keeps Shabbot. Not in a legalistic way, but how they honor God, the woman or mother of the house, and each child. It was truly memorable. Thank you for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m along for the Sabbathing journey…looking forward to your upcoming posts. We are rest-LESS rather than rest-FULL. It’s a disease in the church. Yet, Jesus offers us rest. Wish we lived close so we could sit down with a cuppa to discuss this topic.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Greetings, a very good article but I would like to point out, respectfully, that the Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday. Nowhere in the Bible is Sunday connected with the Sabbath.

    Liked by 1 person

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