Perhaps it’s too soon to talk about it, but last Sunday was not the best. I came home from church, ate lunch and watched a movie. The rest of the day involved eating dinner (but not doing the dishes) and lying on the couch. And what, might you ask, was I doing on the couch? Resting? No. I was worrying. Worrying about all the things I needed to get done, all the things I would have to do on Monday, all the things I couldn’t do because it was, unfortunately, Sunday.

Now, the irony in this is that, on Saturday, I had felt no such pressure to be productive. I’m never so motivated to do something as when I’ve decided to put it aside. I realized that day that something needed to change, and I’m pretty sure it’s not the order of the week. What needed to change was my attitude toward the Sabbath Day.

What is a Sabbath?

If you think it is a day to sit around and fret, you’re just as confused as I was. Exodus 16:23 calls this day a “Sabbath to the Lord.” A Sabbath is a gift of time we give back to God. One of the Ten Commandments (Exodus chapter 20) is to “observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.” Exodus 31 says that we keep the Sabbath “so that we may know” that God is Lord. Observing (or as some translations say, “celebrating”) this day of the week is a commandment. The other six days of the week are for work. We do these things (cook, clean, work for pay) to take care of ourselves, but Sabbaths are for trusting God to take care of us. Sabbaths, when we don’t make money and we don’t weed the flowerbeds, remind us that He is Lord. He will provide for us if we keep His commandments. The flowerbed can wait. It is also practical and healthy to take a day to recuperate and prepare for another six days of work. This commandment, to observe the Sabbath, was made out of love for us. God is protecting us from fatigue and everything that goes along with it. (In my case, irritability, snapping at my siblings, discouragement, complaining, laziness and a failure to resist temptation, just to name a few!)

Where is my focus?

Many of my Sundays have been spent in ways I am ashamed to share. Scrolling through my Facebook feed, watching whatever happens to come on TV, moping around, complaining, wasting time, and, as I mentioned, worrying about tomorrow. But my plans for Sundays have changed. For one thing, I’m going to have a plan! I enjoy the lack of schedule Sundays provide, but I should still have a plan to prevent the entire day going down the drain for the glory of Facebook. If I remember that Sabbaths are “to the Lord,” I keep my eyes on Him all week long, especially on this day set-aside just for Him.

Last year my family reevaluated how we spend Christmas and tried to put the focus back on Christ. No, this doesn’t mean that only Christmastime is about Jesus-all year is! But it was a special holiday in which we took special cares to think about Jesus. Think of Sabbaths as a mini-Christmas that comes once a week.

Put aside your work, your chores, your worries, and celebrate Christ. Open your Bible even after going to church. Pray for someone you might not pray for every day. Think about ways you can show others the love of Christ. Give a gift, mediate, put a verse to memory, and listen to music that stirs up your affection for Jesus. Observe the Sabbath, focus on Jesus, and celebrate his provisions!

Is my ox in the ditch?

Ten people use our laundry room. Sometimes we refer to the laundry pile as “the ox in the ditch” because it really cannot wait another day. If we don’t do laundry today, we’ll all be naked tomorrow. You get the idea. This joke comes, of course, from Luke 14:5 in which Jesus says, “Supposing your child or ox fell into a ditch on the Sabbath day. Wouldn’t you immediately pull it out?”

Jesus made it very clear that there are some things it would be ridiculous to ignore on the Sabbath day. Many of the Jewish people of that day had become extremely legalistic about the Sabbath. Not only would they refuse to cook, clean, write or garden on these days, they also considered extinguishing a fire to be work, no matter how much property was at risk!

His Glory

If the Sabbath is about glorifying God, we should be sensible, not legalistic. When my dad has no work clothes, my mother does laundry, even if it’s Sunday. We cook on many Sundays because we must eat and we enjoy cooking together. Keeping the Sabbath is not about restricting yourself, but rather about putting your eyes back on Jesus when the rest of the week is usually so distracting.

My dad works in an emergency room. However much he’d like to have every Sunday off, that’s not possible. Even if he did have Sundays off, someone else would have to be working on that day. Jesus himself healed on the Sabbath! If you don’t have the option of taking every Sunday off work, consider trying to find another time to “Sabbath” during the week. Rest is so very important. God himself rested and commanded us to do the same. If, on a Sunday, you need a nap, by all means — take a nap! If you invite visitors over after church, don’t feel guilty about being a hostess. If you want to plop down and watch a movie with your family — do it! My suggestions were just ideas that I’ve come up with this week. Just remember, the Sabbath is a commandment for our own good. Keep it about Jesus!

{Check out Everly’s recent series titled, Why Church?}

7 Comments

  1. Loved this post! For several years we worked outside of the home 6 days a week, Sunday was catch-up day at home, but it was time spent together, to His glory. Thank you for the verse…I’d never heard it before.

    Funny to think: If no one worked on the Sabbath there wouldn’t be church, for that is a minister’s work.

  2. Everly, I so thank the Lord for this article of yours! It’s like a specific message to me, because only a few days ago He started telling me about making His Day about Him, not about myself. I decided that on Sunday I’ll make time to write to my Christian friends – which usually I put aside and then forget doing altogether! Generally I noticed that a little extra effort on Saturday evening helps me focus on the Lord on Sunday – such as tidying up the house and finishing tasks so that I won’t have to worry about them the next day. Every small thing done in view of preparing for the Lord’s Day renders it even more precious to me, just as happily anticipating an event increases one’s ability to actually enjoy it when it comes…

  3. This blog post is an answered prayer!!! For the longest time, I wondered just how God wanted me to view His Sabath. Was I doing it right? Should I be doing more? But really, it’s a blessed day to rest in the Glory of our Heavenly Father.

    Thank you so much for listening to God’s Spirit and posting this! It has brought such joy to my heart!!

  4. ” Keeping the Sabbath is not about restricting yourself, but rather about putting your eyes back on Jesus when the rest of the week is usually so distracting.”

    Amen to that quote!

    I’m one of those who believes that the Sabbath is on Saturday but which ever day you “observe”, it is in the Ten Commandments! And keeping it about Jesus is the best advice. 🙂

  5. I really liked this, great ideas for the Sabbath: “Put aside your work, your chores, your worries, and celebrate Christ. Open your Bible even after going to church. Pray for someone you might not pray for every day. Think about ways you can show others the love of Christ. Give a gift, mediate, put a verse to memory, and listen to music that stirs up your affection for Jesus. Observe the Sabbath, focus on Jesus, and celebrate his provisions! ”

    Keep it about Jesus! Amen to this! I think too many of us have lost sight of the importance of keeping the Sabbath, but the Lord knew what He was doing! 🙂

  6. Love this, Everly. My “ox in the ditch” is, of course, the milk cows– but it all can and should be for His glory. (and when it is, oh, what blessings the day provides!)

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