I was looking up the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5 for Anna, and as I was reading through them, I stopped at number four: “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.” (Deut 5:12-14)
Instantly it made me think about the concept of Sabbath, a day of rest and how challenging I find it to even have a morning of Sabbath, let alone a whole day! Western culture doesn’t cater toward much genuine rest. Our weeks are jam-packed with school, work, extracurricular activities and ironically, the weekends can be equally if not more busy than the weekdays with errands, birthday parties, homework, more activities and church. So when are we supposed to have a Sabbath rest?
Certainly I am no expert but I am trying to recognise the Holy Spirit’s calm nudge of my heart when it is time for me to take a rest. There are particular weeks, like half term with kids off school, that I know can’t practically have much rest in them. But within normal routine, I have a morning window of three hours while both kids are at school. The temptation is to whizz around the house at lightning speed, cleaning up last night’s dishes, general house cleaning, and work on my never ending laundry pile. I can accomplish tasks twice as fast when I’m on my own! Then there’s shopping, catching up with mum friends, writing, time with God and exercise. There are so many things I’d like to accomplish in that window of time!
Modern culture says to “stay busy” as that’s how we find purpose, meaning, and a sense of achievement with how productive we can be. Like many, I love staying busy and doing lots of things, yet I cannot deny the still small voice from the Holy Spirit whispering regularly, “Slow down… Be still for a while.”
As Luke’s trains and tracks are currently spread all over our front room floor, and remnants of biscuit crumbs from Anna are sprinkled over my sofa, I am choosing to rest. To sip my tea, ignoring the mess of daily life, and instead inviting the Holy Spirit to be here with me. To soak in the presence of the living God and without words from my lips, I’m learning to enjoy the quiet silence as I wait on His words or meditate on a Bible verse.
This last week, my parents who live in Northern California, were without electricity for three days due to the California wildfires. My best friend Britt and her husband Ben and many others in Sonoma County were forced to evacuate their homes with threats from the Kincade Fire, which has burnt 77,000 acres of land already. The power is back on for now and Britt and Ben have returned home, but in those three days, it made me realise how faraway I am geographically to help in any sort of practical way. But the one thing I could do was to pray. My prayers for my loved ones, for a stillness of wind, for safety of the firefighters and all families evacuating, were lifted to God Almighty.
From extreme weather disasters, violence, terrorism, political uncertainty with Brexit and beyond, and so much negativity woven throughout the stories on all forms of media news coverage, I am convinced that more of us need to make time to be quiet before the Lord and lift all of our broken world up to Him. To be faithful to pray and spend time trying to be observant to the brokenness and hurt in our own communities and be advocates for Jesus’ gift of hope.
Realistically, most of us don’t have schedules where it’s possible to have a full day of Sabbath rest. So whatever window of time you do have, I challenge myself and you to use it wisely. Let’s purposefully leave space in our schedules for moments of Sabbath. Maybe it’s when you first wake up or right before you go to bed or perhaps it’s fifteen minutes before you collect kids from school or on your train commute home, but whatever small window of time you do have, be ready to make it a worthwhile moment.
Let’s do this journey toward Sabbath together.