“Sabbath & Relying on God”
Becoming People of Faith
As I write this, it is snowing, pelting ice and soon it will begin to rain. School buses are canceled and many offices have closed for the day. As a child when this happened, it was a day off. People played games, made snow people, read, told stories and were together as a family. It became a day of rest – until we had to go and shovel snow! Today, with the advent of technology, my kids continue to communicate with their teachers, I am able to meet by phone with people, have video conference calls and respond to email. We live in a different world.
We communicate by email, social media, video calls, direct messaging and sometimes by a letter on a plain piece of paper. In a recent study it was determined that, in 2018, over 280 billion emails were sent in North America, of which about 34% were actually opened and read. In 2019 it is expected that, worldwide, people will send each other over 8 trillion instant messages. A stunning fact is that the typical Canadian will spend approximately 5 years and 4 months of their lives utilizing social media.
This world is remarkable with its technology, speed and the ability to communicate ideas, facts and falsehoods at incredible speeds. What can be accomplished and the ways people’s lives can be enhanced is, in many ways, unmatched in history, At the same time, I observe that, for many, the ability to slow down and rest to experience true Sabbath is increasingly difficult. We have friendships around the world, people are more mobile and our ability to travel anywhere is freeing. Our drive to do more and to accomplish more is unmatched. At all hours of the day and night we can be “fully” engaged and doing. Emailing, texting and working from an office, a couch, a bed or the backyard.
Over the last few months, my life has had to slow down a bit. I had no choice in this slow down. In this season of slowing down God has been teaching me what it means to be a person of patience, to depend on others, to give up control and the value of creating regular space to allow my mind to wander, God to speak and my soul to catch up with my dreams, my schedule and my to do list. I’ve been reminded that taking a Sabbath rest isn’t simply going to church and then getting back to the rest of my weekend to do list. No, a Sabbath rest is carving out the space in the routine of life to give God the freedom and ability to be heard deep within our soul. A Sabbath creates the space where I realize I am dependent upon God. I am reminded that my life isn’t really mine. It’s on loan to me from God and it’s my role to steward it.
We all have lists of things we need to do and this is not a new phenomenon. What changes is how we create space to regenerate the soul, to commune with Jesus through his Word, connect with others and to discover what it means to be humans made in the image of the divine.
We all seek these Sabbath moments differently. For me one thing (among others) it means rising in the morning early enough to pray, to commune with Jesus through the scriptures, to read and journal. It takes time, effort and somedays it means rising earlier then I want, but it is a time that has become a blessing and necessity in my life.
Jesus exemplified this in the midst of all the human need around him. In Mark 6:31 we read, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place…”
So what would it be for you that would regenerate in some way that sense of being human, connected to your creator, allowing you to experience the joy of being in His presence, and of knowing His peace? It doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be a commitment to:
- Turn Netflix off for a few days each week
- Begin an exercise regimen
- Not check your phone after a certain time each day
- Eat dinner together as a family and talk together about God and his presence in your lives
- Commit to a time of prayer each day, or
- Set an alarm throughout each day to remind you of God’s presence with you
I don’t know what it is for you that would help create restorative Sabbath moments. We are all different. But I know that one author was right when they said, “The Christian faith is not an ideal divorced from reality; it is an encounter with Jesus…”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
— Doug Sider is the Executive Director at Be In Christ Church of Canada.
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