As we conclude our series on Stillness, I want you to take a moment to access your current state of mind. Are you anxious today? Fearful? Content? Joy-filled? Is your heart quiet with the love of Christ or do you feel angst in your spirit as you begin reading these words?
Do you need to take pause, quiet your heart, and just be for a moment? I shared a prayer exercise with you at the end of week 1 of this series. Take a few minutes and try it now.
During this prayer exercise when you find that your mind is racing, simply try to quiet your mind by speaking the name of Jesus, Holy Spirit, Father, or peace.
Put away all distractions.
- Watch your breathing. Sit in an upright, but relaxed position. Close your eyes. Take slow deep breaths.
- Feel the sensations in your body—stress, heartrate, tightness, calmness, pain, lightness, etc. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and it’s a good gift. By becoming aware of our body, we become present in the moment, and eventually, in God Himself.
- Breathe and Pray. Settle into a rhythm, turning each breath into a prayer. Imagine yourself breathing out:
- The need for control
Now imagine yourself breathing in its opposite:
How did that feel? Are you more relaxed, focused, and fortified with the truth of who God is?
We’ve discussed silence and solitude over these weeks, and now we will look at our final “S” word in this Stillness compilation—Sabbath.
What is a sabbath?
Simply put, sabbath is a day set aside for rest and worship. This day of rest and worship constitutes a 24-hour period whereby a person isn’t required to think about work, worries, or the stressors of life. The purpose of this dedicated period of time is to provide refreshment, nourishment, and strength to the mind, body, and soul.
Genesis 2:2-3 says,
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested (sabot) on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
Did God choose to observe a day of rest because He was tired from creation? I don’t think so. No, God wanted to give His people an example to live by, the gift of a sabbath—a time of rest and refreshment.
Psalm 23:2-3 uses another word for rest.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still (menuha) waters. He restores my soul.
Menuha is a Hebrew word for rest, but it is better translated as joyous repose, tranquility, or delight.
Notice that the Psalmist says that the shepherd leads his sheep to still (restful, delightful) waters. Again, we see the illustration of rest as a gift from God.
If rest in creation or rest of any other kind is either commanded or given to us, why do you suppose we reject this gracious gift?
The fourth of the Ten Commandments says,
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
As God’s people began making the Law a part of their lives, worshiping God, honoring God, and loving others, they began learning important, life-changing lessons related to rest and freedom. They learned over time that although in Egypt they were enslaved by those in authority over them, finding their worth and security in their productivity, once free, they could learn that their productivity did not define them, only God could affirm, confirm, and establish them with His gracious hand of steadfast love. Sabbath provided rest and much-needed holy rhythm for their lives.
As they learned to take observe the sabbath for what it was—a gracious, God-given gift—they would have taken delight in this day of rest and freedom.
What about you and me? Yes, Sunday is our day of worship, but when is our day of sabbath rest? Our sabbath can be Sunday or it can be a Monday, a Thursday, or a Saturday. It doesn’t matter. The point is to set aside time to stop, rest, delight, and worship God for who He is.
Sabbath may look different for me than for you. I may choose to sleep in, have a slow-moving morning, followed by an extended period of prayer and Bible study. You may choose to awake early, watch the sun rise, go for a walk, and worship through song throughout your day. The what of sabbath is not nearly as important as the who. What do you choose to focus on? The stressors of life or the Savior of your life?
In Matthew 11 Jesus gives another command for rest. Read these words and allow them to wash over you.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30
That is the rest from the madness of life—an invitation to lighten your load, find rest, and experience joyful repose. Come to Jesus—He is your first stop from madness of life.
Will you receive this blessing of a sabbath or reject it?
These are the bullet points on the “to-do” list for your sabbath.