I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a single word.
It’s such a beautiful word. It feels wispy and wide-open, warm like the afternoon sun of spring. There’s something about it that makes you want to whisper out loud rather than shout.
I love Sabbath. And I believe in its healing power. But I’ve learned something – something I need to write down now like so many things I write, so that perhaps it may encourage you today, and that I might even be encouraged down the road when my vision gets blurry and I need to be reminded of what is true and right and right here. (Are you at all a forgetful soul like me? This blog has become full of things I just don’t want to forget, full of the reminders of just how much God tends to the finest of details and cares for us without measure. I’m glad you give me grace to keep the thoughts tucked away here).
I’ve heard it said that Sabbath is rest. And I’ve been taught that Sabbath is a specific day of the week. I watch people take a day of rest – a time where they perhaps attend a worship service and eat a good meal with family and choose to take a nap rather than respond to work emails – and call it Sabbath. Or they take extended time away from everything to disconnect from the busy and reconnect with the simple.
Rest is good. Rest is scriptural. We all need weekends in our weeks. But adventuring on this road with the Lord has shown me what I’ve been taught is incomplete. Sabbath is indeed rest – but rest isn’t true Sabbath.
In fact, rest isn’t Sabbath any more than peace is shalom (maybe I’ll write about that sometime – because I know I’ll need to be reminded of shalom’s power too). Sabbath is different, deeper, richer than any ritual or rite. It’s a Psalm 42 “in the midst of the chaos and in the midst of the battle, be still and know…” moment. It’s the stillness in our fury.
If Sabbath was merely day of the week or a quick vacation, Jesus would have demonstrated it. Yet in Mark 1, he broke all the rules set in place about Sabbath by the religious leaders and was condemned for His actions. He healed on the Sabbath, and His disciples worked on the Sabbath. He declared it right and good – and He reminded all those who would listen that He knew what Sabbath was because He created it. And the purpose of the Sabbath is to tend to the people who receive it.
Yes, receive it. I’ve learned that Sabbath is a gift. It’s not about the getting away, running away, hiding away. There is no place we can go to find Sabbath – no mountain retreat, no warm sandy shoreline. It was never meant to be chased or confined to a day of the week or a time of the year. Sabbath is a gift given by Jesus, its designer and its Lord.
Sabbath is a breath, a breeze, a do-over, a start-again in the midst of the still going strong, Real Sabbath happens while life is still happening – Sabbath is there in the commute to the office, in the staring at spreadsheets, in the living room and the laundry room and the boardroom and at the bedside vigil of a dying loved one. Sabbath exists on a quiet walk and in the rush of a school day. Sabbath stands waiting in the taking time for yourself and in the giving yourself away.
Real Sabbath is a gift, waiting for you to simply reach out and receive it. And don’t you want to receive it? I know I do. This ever-forgetful girl is holding her hands out, ready for that single beautiful word.
Come, sweet Sabbath. Right here. Right now.
May I pray for you to receive Sabbath today? And where have you found Sabbath before? Share your story. I’d love to hear it.