Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.
John Mark Comer in his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry said – “If the results you are getting from your way of doing life are lousy – anxiety at a simmer, mild depression, high levels of stress, chronic emotional burnout, little to no sense of the presence of God, in inability to focus your mind on the things that make for life, etc. – then the odds are very good that something about the system that is your life is off kilter. It isn’t working. The way you’ve organized your morning or evening routine, your schedule, your budget, your relationship to your phone; how you manage your resources of time, money, and attention, etc. – something is out of whack.”
Maybe in what we’re talking about at Manschool or at a Wild at Heart boot camp or after a good message on Sunday you’ll get glimpse of this other life, a glimpse of the Way of Jesus, His Way of life. And you think, “I want that.” And we head home thinking it’s really going to change, and we go right back to living our life exactly as we had been. And … nothing changes. It’s the same cycle on repeat because we’ve kept the exact same lifestyle, we’ve kept the exact same practices and we haven’t altered our way of doing life one bit. Saying goes – “Junk in, junk out”.
You must alter the input if you want a different outcome.
We must create a habitat where our souls can thrive. My soul cannot thrive in a world drowning in hurry. If I want to experience the Way of Jesus, I need to change some of the inputs in my life. Thus, we introduce the practice of Sabbath…
“On the seventh day, God had finished the work He had been doing; so, on the seventh day He rested from all His work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” Genesis 2:2-3
One particular Sabbath Jesus got in trouble with the Pharisees for how He and His disciples were observing the day. In a loving rebuke, Jesus simply said,
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
Sabbath is a gift. It was created and designed by God Himself. It is “for” us. A gift to enjoy from the Creator to His creation. God made the animals and He blessed them. God made man and He blessed him. God made the Sabbath and … He blessed it.
Sabbath is one of the best ways we can get our balance back. Too many of us feel like this, “I am always up, always on. I never get a break. Never truly relax.” Therefore, we need to learn the practice of Sabbath. Like the outdoors, the one-minute pause, benevolent detachment – Sabbath is the ancient path, the ancient road. We are recovering the habitat of the soul. We were meant for rhythm and we were meant for a reset.
Sabbath is a commandment, but it is also a real good idea. It is built into the fabric of our world. God built a rhythm into the DNA of creation. A tempo. A beat. A way things are supposed to work. God worked for six and rested for one. God blessed the 7th day and made it holy. Scientists are now learning that we literally need to catch up on sleep after 7 days. By the 7th day, your natural rhythm needs rest and renewal.
Sabbath is a spirit of restfulness. It compares and contrasts to the world’s spirit of restlessness – anxiety, discontentment, greed, anger and workaholism.
Sabbath is relaxing into God’s goodness. Shabbat is a 24-hour day by which we cultivate (there is that word again – cultivate) a spirit of restfulness. As we said early, we have to cultivate a habitat for our souls to flourish. Creating a habitat where your soul can thrive.
Sabbath is stopping. Shabbat literally means “Stop”. It is Resting. Delighting. Worshiping.
Stopping = no work, no worry, to stop wanting and instead enjoying what you have.
Resting = rest for your body and your mind and your spirit. It is lots of sleep, lots of quiet. It is time with friends and family. It is time in nature.
Delighting = celebrating the goodness of God. Pampering your soul with joy and feeding it with beauty.
Worshiping = a day to center yourself and your heart through worship of Him.
Sabbath, says John Mark Comer, is a holiday we observe just like Christmas except we get to do it 52 times a year.
Dan Allender said – “The Sabbath is an invitation to enter delight. The Sabbath, when experienced as God intended, is the best day of our lives. It is the day we anticipate on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and the day we remember on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The Sabbath is a holy time where we feast, play, dance, love, sing, pray, laugh, tell stories, read, paint, walk and watch creation in its fullness.”
There is a discipline to the Sabbath that is really hard for a lot of us. It takes a lot of intentionality: it won’t just happen to you. It takes planning and preparation. It takes self-control, the capacity to say no to a list of good things to you can say yes to the best things. People who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently. It will alter your life.
Sabbath is the only spiritual discipline that makes it into the Ten Commandments. Not church or Bible reading, not even prayer. Sabbath is the anchor discipline of the people of God. So crucial that God lovingly commands us to remember to rest.
Legalism and the religious spirit would tell you that Sabbath is a day of complete “nothing”. No work. No consumption. No entertainment. One could argue – no joy. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We are saying Sabbath is a discipline of being intentional to unplug from the world – to disengage. To untangle. Technology turned off. Silence. Good food. Family. Calm. Quiet. Rest. So, while it is not a puritan like “no” to everything, it is also not gluttonous. It is an intentional slow down to reorient your entire family to each other and to God. It is slowing the mad pace of life, so you make sure your branch is attached to the Vine.
Comer says this – “My family and I do this every week. Just before sunset on Friday, we finish up all our to-do lists and homework and grocery shopping and responsibilities. We power down all our devices – we literally put them all in a box and stow it in a closet. We gather around the table as a family. We open a bottle of wine, light some candles, read a Psalm, pray. Then we feast, and we basically don’t stop feasting for the next 24 hours. We sleep in on Saturday morning. Drink coffee. Read our Bibles. Pray more. Spend time together. Talk. Laugh. In the summer, walk to the park. In the winter, build a fire. Get lost in a good novel on the couch. Nap. Love. Rest.”
You have a choice to make – continue on the mad path this world is rushing down — or — disengage in the madness, unplug the technology and Shabbat. Rest. Enjoy the goodness of God. He made you for it. He made the day for you.