Often I feel that stopping for Sabbath is imprudent, even impossible. I flippantly give mental assent to Sunday being a “day off.” Growing up in a predominantly Christian area, stores were closed, life slowed down. However, it was merely the cultural norm. The slowing down was bereft of meaning or substance. Sabbath was for rule followers—in the Pharisaical way. You didn’t want to be seen mowing your lawn on Sunday—the neighbors would think you’d lost your faith!! The constant churn to accomplish, to measure up—pressurized on Sabbath as you met the requirements of being “holy.”

With consistent “Sabbath,” my heart grew weary. I had missed the true meaning. Sabbath—the place where God gifts to you rest. I’m discovering this rest is not merely a ceasing of doing things. It is a rest from yourself—a rest from the false self—constantly telling you that you’re not good enough, you need to accomplish more; that you need to solve one more task, send one more email, clean one more dish, put one more thing in it’s place, check one more line off the to-do list.

How weary are our hearts and souls from constant self-nagging? It is in Sabbath that we surrender this false self. We sacrifice our selves on the altar of God. As the liturgy puts it, “we offer ourselves, our souls and bodies, as a living sacrifice.”[1] It is in the laying down of our ideas of who we are, who we want to become, what we want to accomplish, that we are then able to enter into Christ, “that he may dwell in us, and we in him.”[2]

As we dwell in him, “in quietness and trust,”[3] we begin to see God, to receive from Him our true selves. As I lay down my work, God begins to give new vision, new creativity, and renewed calling. My work, and my own sense of myself, look different on the other side of Sabbath. They have both been sacrificed and redeemed by the God who gives me rest.

Sabbath is a resting in God, the place of deeper intimacy with Him, the place where He reveals Himself to us. It is also the place that God reveals to us our true selves. After laying down our own agenda, releasing our own forced self-concept, and the self the world tells us to be—it is in these moments—that God is able to reveal the truth of who we are called to be in Him. “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.”[4] It is out of Christ that we move forth from Sabbath, into renewed calling of work in this world. May we honestly pray at the end of Sabbath rest, “Father, send us out into the world to do the work You have given us to do.”[5]

 

 

[1] The Order for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion, commonly called The Holy Eucharist Common Text Approved for Provincial Use The Anglican Church in North America Petertide, A.D. 2013.

[2] 1 John 4:13 (King James)

[3] Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)

 

[4] Ephesians 1:11 (Message)

[5] The Order for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion, commonly called The Holy Eucharist Common Text Approved for Provincial Use The Anglican Church in North America Petertide, A.D. 2013

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