How can we practice the rhythms and rest of Sabbath?
In November, Sabbath has been the theme for Healthy Spirituality’s Tending the Holy Thursday series where I highlight a spiritual practice or a person(s) of faith for several weeks, so we can explore the topic with more depth. It is my hope and prayer we all can learn something new, gain ideas, and be motivated to dig deeper into this practice.
As usual with each month’s theme, I have an additional FREE download for you. I knew I wanted to learn more what the Bible said about Sabbath and was surprised at the number of verses referring to this practice. Then I began to dive into quotes from the writings of others who pondered this topic and I was amazed at the nuggets of wisdom I discovered. So I compiled them for you into a PDF called “Quotes and Verses to Ponder About the Sabbath” and you can obtained this resource by simply clicking the button at the end of this post. I hope its words deepens your exploration.
Finding the Rhythms and Rest of Sabbath
The thoughts and tips about Sabbath today comes from Shelly Millers new book, Rhythms of Rest, Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. Shelley created a Sabbath Society a few years back where she shared her own exploration of practicing this sacred time and led quite a few interesting discussions how to best find the rhythm of this sacred pause in our crazy schedules. Her book rose from real life interaction and applications of this discipline.
I encourage you to read Rhythms of Rest and here are few highlights
- Are we using busyness to avoid what is really important? Shelley writes, “busyness in the wrong things ultimately leave us completely unprepared for what is most important…Sabbath is weekly preparation and anticipation for making space in our lives for Christ to come. Sabbath rhythms are general gifts; they are not about guilt.”
- Taking that first small step can be difficult but is essential to start someplace. “Starting is the hardest part of any good intention towards creating new rhythms. We begin a little uncertain, doubting we’ll be able to rest because of the work stacking up. But the more we plan the path and organize the journey, the more we will begin to walk our days toward Sabbath instead of away from it.” I like Shelley’s gentle invitation to enter this sacred practice slowly and in small ways.
- How each of us “does” Sabbath is unique. “God is less interested in how we spend our Sabbath than that he has our undivided attention. God longs for our presence with him…More than what we do for him, he longs for us to be with him, to trust he is working all things together for our good…When we abide in Jesus all our question about HOW we Sabbath are answered in WHO we worship.” Isn’t that a freeing framework for this practice?
- Consider what myths we are believing about Sabbath. Is it all boring long silence and stillness? Is it only possible once the to do list is completed? Is it only for the “holier than thou” among us? Is it only on Sundays and only if you can carve out a full 24 hours? “Sabbath isn’t another rung on a spiritual ladder we climb toward achieving smiles frm heaven. No, it isn’t what we do at all. God invites you to rest because he loves who you are.”
- Sabbath shifts our focus from what we do to who we worship. “Sabbath is a weekly reminder that God cares more about who you are than what you do.”
Questions About Sabbath
I believe in the power of pondering deep questions. They help us dig deeper, take off false layers we hid under and reveal the beauty deep inside each of us. Shelley has a list of wonderful questions to consider when honoring Sabbath. Here are a few examples that resonated with me and hopefully linger with you too:
- I admit that in the past I approached Sabbath as a suggestion or an elective instead of a commandment. How have your views about Sabbath been shaped in the past?
- How do you respond to things being left undone in order to rest? Is guilt a factor in choosing not to rest?
- Have you ever thought about Sabbath as a weekly invitation for conversation with the Creator, not only for you but for others? Does this idea change your perspective about how you approach a day of rest?
- What are some of the practical ways you can begin to include pausing or solitude during the week?
I want to write at least one more blog post about Sabbath, but with next Thursday being Thanksgiving in the U.S. I will complete this topic on an upcoming Tuesday. I share some final tips and lessons about this practice.
Don’t forget to download your free copy of the “Quotes and Verses to Ponder about Sabbath” by clicking on the button below. I compiled 100 interesting words of wisdom about this discipline.
Click Here to Get “Quotes and Verses to Ponder about Sabbath”
How has this series on Sabbath changed how you view this practice?
P.S. I still need more of you to complete the readers survey. I value you input. Click here for this year’s survey. Please complete it before the end of November. Thanks so much.
Nancy Ruegg says
My past HAS influenced my view of the Sabbath. It was never a true day of rest, what with church, Sunday School, perhaps a rehearsal, youth group (4th-12th grades) and evening service. I never really developed a mindset for a day of rest. Guilt is a factor for me, too, in letting go and celebrating the Sabbath fully. I need to trust God that what is necessary for the week to come WILL be accomplished. In fact, I need to trust that he will help me to complete those important tasks — all in good time — in spite of resting on Sunday. Lord, help me be faithful, obedient, and fully honoring of the Sabbath and ultimately of you! Thank you, Jean, for your gentle prodding!
Jean Wise says
wow love your honesty, Nancy and you have a very valid point about how our past influences our practice of Sabbath. That is very insightful and one I need to ponder too. I am learning that Sabbath is more of a mindset and doesn’t have to comply to any ones else’s rules but what God and I discuss. I find that freeing, especially of guilt. it becomes more of a God and me project in progress. isn’t one particular day either. Maybe we need to practice Sabbath moments too. Love your prayer too. I bet reading one of those books may help you too. Exploring with you Nancy!
Nancy Ruegg says
“Sabbath as a mindset” is a helpful concept. If I’m fretting while “resting,” restoration will not take place. And yes, Sabbath moments throughout the week are wonderful pick-me-ups for the spirit! Appreciate your insight, Jean.
Hi Jean! I absolutely choose busyness as an avoidance tactic. Even though I know that, I still do it. Sigh… It comes especially when I should be writing.
Sabbath rest, taking time to take time is really a countercultural idea. Our ancestors did it so well, and we struggle to take an hour off without feeling guilty. The idea of a whole day is overwhelming to many. God knows what he’s doing though, we really need a time to enforce our minds to relax, and our bodies too. Stress is so debilitating, as our Father knows!
Jean Wise says
Hi Ceil. glad to know I am not the only one who chooses busyness when I want to avoid something. You hit the nail on the head about guilt – that blocks our greatest intentions. Hope you have a wonderful weekend
Martha Orlando says
The more I read about the Sabbath here, Jean, the more I’m beginning to see that each and every day can (and does if we let it) has its Sabbath moments. Maybe it’s when we stop to thoughtfully read God’s Word, or in our morning prayers, or just sitting quietly outdoors, breathing in His creation. We all need rest, and the best place to rest is in Him. Blessings!
Jean Wise says
I think you have a very valid point, Martha. We do need to pause and breath in God more often every day. I do wonder though about the advantages of longer, deeper breaks once a week. I know my once a year four day retreat is so refreshing, for example. Another question I ask myself – does this draw me closer or take me away from God? often that clarifies where rest and renewal really are for me. I certainly do appreciated your insight. Blessings