This month has had much joy in it, as well, for my children just turned 9—the ones I did not know if ever would come. They were much longed for, prayed for, and hoped for. My sweet mom also celebrated her birthday this month. The celebrations have been many, joyous, and chaotic!
Outside of these events, life has just been very busy with scheduling and fullness—all good, but it has been fast, fast, fast. As our children have gotten older, more activities have come and paces have surged forward. For you, my friends reading this, I am sure there is much going on in your world, too—jobs, callings, loss of loved ones, family shepherding/parenting, births, chores, aching struggles, fun times with friends, and so forth.
For me, the hectic pace of life often ends up assaulting my body in harsh ways. Last night, in bed, my anxiety was at full throttle as I felt the plates in my heart and life spinning, and I was so overwhelmed. I was praying and praying, yet my body had taken off. The adrenaline had already shot through my veins, and my heart was racing (even while on a betablocker!). I was working at staying calm through prayer—trying not to let myself panic while my body was out of control.
As all of this life has been happening, God has been weaving the concept of Sabbath into my soul. There has not been much room for Sabbath in my life these days, and that is okay for a time. Sometimes, life demands that we be present in ways that push, pull, and require our every last ounce of being. But, that reality cannot stay forever. Sabbath is built into the very fabric of our souls. Yahweh, our Maker and the Creator, Himself, rested on the seventh day of creation. Since we are so wondrously made in His image, we, too, must Sabbath.
In the Ten Commandments, God says that “…the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:11) It is a blessed and sacred part of our relationship with Him. Beyond that, it is a witness between us. Hear what He says to the Israelites in Exodus 31:17--“ It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” Our God knew we needed this restful discipline to refresh us and to give witness to His love.
Jesus, the One Who Sabbathed perfectly on this earth, reminded the teachers of the law that “…the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) God always meant for it to bless us and also to teach us the reverence of stopping our agendas so that we might remember Him and seek after His. The Hebrew word for Sabbath literally means, “cease, desist.” (Vines) It is so hard to cease in our fast-paced world, for our strivings, victories, and worries distract us mightily.
I do not know all the reasons why God has allowed me to battle anxiety so severely, but I do know that it forces me to Sabbath. I literally start breaking down inwardly and outwardly if I do not practice Sabbath in my life. In this, I am so grateful for God’s redeeming my weakness to draw me closer to Him.
Beyond His work over my anxiety, He has breathed Sabbath over my parenting, marriage, the daily grind of living, in my callings, and beyond. Here are some of the ways I Sabbath with Him—looking out a window and really seeing His handiwork, watching/reading visual and redemptive stories, having regular breaks in my leading of worship, sitting down and doing nothing for a time, going on a date with my husband, having fun with my children, ceasing from my agendas and productivity, not listening to all the podcasts I’d like so that there is silence in my spirit, calling a friend, relishing and experiencing colors and beauty, and many more. All of these are little, restful breaths of Him that help restore my soul.
Finally, my very best times of Sabbath are when I take time to get alone with Jesus and commune intentionally and fervently with Him. Only then do I enter most deeply into that rare and holy rest found in the heart of Sabbath.
I pray that we would cultivate more and more Sabbath in our busy lives. May we rest in Him so that we can boldly live out our callings before Him in His strength and not our own. May we rest, be refreshed, and drink of Him. May we be a people who Sabbath.