I have a confession. I realize that sometimes when pastors make confessions, there is an avalanche of drama that comes with it. Relax for a minute and follow along. I must confess that I do not practice Sabbath well. Am I a workaholic? Maybe. I don’t take a day off regularly. When I do take a day off from my “job as pastor,” I am filling that time with my dissertation project work or some other task that needs to be done. Can anyone relate?
The week I was preparing for this sermon, I woke up with a headache and headed to a meeting. Long story short, as the headache progressed and the nausea kicked in, I realized that my plan for the day would need to change. I notified our staff and headed to the house after I powered through my first meeting of the day. I slept about 5 hours that day. Ingested a lot of water and electrolytes and felt like a brand new human. The bottom line is that I had pushed too far for too long, and my body said it was time to rest. That is a pattern for me that demonstrates I have not yet learned to work from rest, but instead often work for rest.
When I find myself overwhelmed with things to do, and even when I feel myself nearing the brick wall, I can see it but resolve that I just need to work harder, grind it out, suck it up, and drive on. That part may be hardwired into my personality or a byproduct of the work ethic instilled in me as a boy. Can anyone relate?
If I had to guess, I am not alone in this confession. But what do we need to do about it? While owning it is the first step, we must also slow down to recognize the significance of the Sabbath rest initiated in Genesis 1 and codified in Exodus 20:8-11. God has a pattern and design for our weekly rhythm that ultimately reminds us of who He is and the eternal rest He has called us to enjoy forever.
I’ve got to get better at this and will commit to working at breaking bad habits. The beauty of weekly Sabbath is not just to rest our bodies. That is important, but Sabbath does not necessarily mean inactivity. Historically Sabbath rest involved corporate worship, communal meals, and quality time with family and in reflection.
If we followed God’s plan and routinely rested, spent quality time with those closest to us, and reflected on His promise of eternal rest, do you think we would be more joyful and less stressed? It’s worth a shot! In those moments, we may prioritize relationships with God and others and thus better live out His commands to love Him and to love our neighbor. I want to do better at this, and I give anyone reading this permission to hold me accountable.