By Brock Bondurant
Hebrews 4:9-11 – 9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
Are you tired? Weary? Burdened? Worn out? Unsatisfied? Not enough time in the day?
Yes. Yes. Double yes. And absolutely.
Is this not how we live anymore: hurried, anxious, and exhausted? So, what’s the solution? More time in the day; one more day per week? If only…
I hate to break it to you, but you and I both would do nothing but fill up our extra time – hour or day – with more. More activities, events, chores, places to go, people to see. Your life at 25/8 wouldn’t look much different than it does at 24/7. You may get a few more steps in or one more task completed, but you’ll still feel all the hurry. As we discuss practicing the way of Jesus there is a spiritual discipline to help us recapture what living life at a frenetic pace steals from us: Sabbath.
Sabbath, or “Shabbat”, literally means to stop – stop doing. We westerners don’t understand this concept, and maybe that’s better than the opposite – a society of sloths. We prefer Go! and Go Faster! But Jesus, as a non-anxious presence exemplified life at a slower pace. One of the ways he did so was through keeping the Sabbath – a day of rest meant for delight and worship – communion with the Father.
God even included Sabbath in the Ten Commandments. He commandsus to stop and rest. Maybe it’s because he knew we’d get distracted. Maybe it’s because he knows us better than we know ourselves. After all, he created us. He knows our limits. He knows how much we can give before anxiety and exhaustion overtake us.
Therefore God gave us the Sabbath as a gift. And a gift it is! In the above passage, verse 9 says the Sabbath rest is for the people of God. If you follow Jesus, it’s for you! This is the gift that Jesus offers in Matthew 11:28:
Come to me… and I will give you rest.
It’s a gift.
Now, before you go all in on 24/7 Sabbath, remember what Jesus said about it: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). This is his reminder that work and Sabbath are both good and holy, but we shouldn’t give ourselves over to either one of them. Rest can become an idol just as easily as work can. So he must be after a heart posture of devotion to him in all things – work and rest alike – that bodes best for our flourishing. After all, the first part of the Sabbath command reads: 6 days you shall labor…(Exodus 20:9), so work and rest are both good, established in a beautiful rhythm that God designed as holy. It may take us our entire lives to discover this rhythm, but with intentional practice and infinite grace we might just experience all that a good Father has in store for us.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Sabbath changed my life. Addicted to hurry, it helped my soul return to me. It helped me to be human again. Not perfect, but human. The Sabbath is a weekly taste of eternity – the place where work and rest reside in perfect harmony. That’s what this Hebrews 4 passage is all about. You are made for more than this world. Sabbath is a practice to remind us of that.
Accepting this gift of grace, allow yourself to be human again. Take time to be with Jesus this week. Labor hard. Then take a day to enjoy its fruit.
Practice: Let’s take a liturgical audit of our lives. Write down your answers to the following:
- What activities/habits are getting in the way of your rest?
- What do you do that causes anxiety?
- What are you giving half-hearted effort towards?
- How can you remove these activities in your life?
- What are some unavoidable, mundane activities that fill your day?
- How can you renew these activities for rest?
- What activities/habits give you life and help you feel rested?
- What would a day full of those activities look like?
Set aside a day. Jot these down. Take part in those restful activities alone or with loved ones.
Pro tip: turn your phone off.
For more ideas, tips, or general help with practicing Sabbath or any of the previously mentioned practices, email me! Brock.Bondurant@veteransunited.com