“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” – Exodus 20:8 NKJV
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]” – Psalm 91:1 AMP
I’ve been thinking a lot on the concept of Sabbath here lately. The word Sabbath actually comes from the Hebrew Shabath which means to “cease, desist, rest” ( https://www.biblestudytools.com ). We use Sabbath as a noun, but its root is a verb. It’s not a thing, but an action. I think we often look at the word Sabbath, and think “went to church checking that one off the list”, but you know what? That’s not what God was getting at. I’m not even fully sure how we made the leap from Sabbath being a day of rest to “must attend church”. Not that we shouldn’t go to church, we should (“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25 NKJV – no one come at me about not attending church), but when God is talking about the Sabbath, and keeping it holy, He’s actually telling us to cease and desist from our labor and instead, rest. There is holiness in rest. That’s kind of a foreign concept in our modern world.
I struggle with rest. I always have. Sleeping through the night has never not been an issue for me. Taking time, much less a full day, to rest is HARD for me. I find that I feel guilty when I rest. And even when I am “resting”, I’m not. Because rest is more than just a posture or a removal of work. It’s a state of mind. If we are “resting”, but our mind is still mentally going through all the things, I think we’re missing the point.
So back to Sabbath. It’s not just a day to check off the list. And I don’t think it’s about whether it’s the first day or the seventh day of the week (yes, I know the significance behind each of those days), but more about actively resting in God. And if you’re in the ministry, in any capacity whether that be individually or as a family, you know that Sundays are about as far from restful as you can imagine. I would love to be able to take a day out the week to do absolutely nothing . . . okay, I’m probably lying here . . . I’m not sure how much I would “love” it, but even if I could, I have kids, and a husband, and a dog (she’s kind of high maintenance), and I’m not sure that doing absolutely nothing for an entire 24 hours, no matter what day it is, is going to be a feasible concept at this point in the game.
But I’m also becoming increasingly convicted regarding my inability to rest . . . my inability to have a Sabbath state of mind.
Psalm 91 is one of my favorite passages of scripture. Years ago, when my oldest was very little, I memorized most of it, and what I didn’t memorize, I can pretty well paraphrase. I didn’t memorize it so I could come on here 10 years later and flaunt my impressive scripture memory skills, but because I have always struggled with anxiety. The catalyst for memorizing Psalm 91 was actually the great swine flu outbreak of 2009. I’m sure some of you remember. My son wasn’t even two when it started, and I. Was. Terrified . . . almost immobilized with fear. So I sat down and committed Psalm 91 to memory, and almost daily, I find myself quoting portions of this passage of scripture. But I also realized that the first verse . . . the one about resting . . . I kind of skim over as I hasten to make sure I remind God that He’s supposed to deliver us from the “perilous pestilence” and “give His angels guard over us”. You know, because I’m pretty sure God doesn’t remember from day to day . . . read the sarcasm.
But y’all . . . rest . . . it’s very well and good to memorize and quote scripture, but we, I, also have to find that place of Sabbath, Shabath, in our lives. Not as a noun but as verb. There comes a point where repeatedly hurling scriptures back at God like it’s some sort of magic is kind of counterproductive. We have to come to the place where we believe that God is faithful to His word and commit to the action of resting in who God is and what He has done for us.
I haven’t arrived in this area. Not even close. For me it looks a lot like letting go of little things on a daily basis. Of refusing to be ruled by the guilt of not doing the next thing on my list. My life is an ever evolving work in Christ, but I also know I’m not alone in this struggle so I challenge you to look at how you can you can just rest and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty today.
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