I have recently battled a bug and I have had a hard time getting up in the morning. Usually I am up at 4:30 with my alarm and 5:15 without one. Lately I have hit the snooze or turned it off completely, sleeping till 6 or even 7 o’clock. That may not sound late, BUT those early morning hours are the only quiet hours of my day, the only time the house isn’t vibrating with activity and noise, and to miss them is like missing a mini vacation. My husband realizes the importance of these hours and he quietly woke me this morning at 6 and let the other children sleep for a little while longer so I would have a few minutes to start my day. Sleep is important, but even more important is resting in Him.
Genesis 2:2-3 – God set the standard of how our weeks should be structured – 6 days of work had occurred in chapter 1 and now it was time for a day of rest. God had completed His work for the week and He rested. He gave us the 7th day as a gift and He sanctified it – set it apart for our good and His glory.
He continues to remind His people of the importance of keeping the sabbath throughout scripture. If you have time, a study of the sabbath is very worthwhile. These verses are a good place to start: Exodus 19:8-11, Leviticus 26:2, Deuteronomy 5:12-15, Isaiah 58:13-14, Ezekiel 20:12, Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-3:5, Hebrews 4:9-11.
As I was studying the sabbath many years ago, I was impressed with other applications of the sabbath in Leviticus 25:
verse 2-4 “When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest.” This concept is explained further in verses 18-22
verse 8-17 “You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. . . You shall have the 50th year as the year of Jubilee . . .”
As I struggled through the dark days of depression, the years of previous Bible study would bubble through my conscience just when I needed it most. One of those times was when I was reading Psalm 16:8:
“I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
The words repeated in my mind “I have set the LORD continually before me.” “I have set the LORD continually before me.” “I have set the LORD continually before me.” And as I thought on this sentence, the sabbath study came back to me. The sabbath is a blessing not just for the physical rest but as a way to “set the LORD continually before me.” David knows the blessings of keeping God continually on the throne of his heart – “I will not be shaken.”
As a mom with many children and responsibilities, struggling daily with depression, I was definitely “shaken”. The truth is all of us have “shaky” days – days when we aren’t sure which way to turn or what to do, days when it seems as if the earth is spinning without us and we are just dizzy from watching the world go by. And as I thought on the extended applications of the sabbath in the Bible, I began to think about how I could apply the same concept in my life in order to keep the LORD continually before me. I desperately need Him to steady my world. And so began the habit of sabbath days . . .
Days where the schedule involved six 15 minute rotations and then 15 minutes of prayer and rest. (Sometimes on desperate days I would play games with myself – like if I just work 6 minutes, then I can take a minute off – because the next minute was all that I could do).
. . . and sabbath weeks:
Our school schedule began to follow a 6 weeks on and 1 week off format. This almost completely prevented the burnout that I was experiencing on a regular basis. We continue this practice even now.
And during those times when I persevered for the entire 6 minutes 😉 (or 6 days or 6 weeks), I was truly thankful during that 7th minute and I was able to worship and breathe and praise God. He was truly “continually before me” even in the midst of depression when I practiced my sabbath days. Sleep is important but nothing can replace true rest. Rest that is earned from 6 days of work, rest that is needed from the effort of perseverance, rest that reminds us of all God has done, rest that refreshes and renews us to work for 6 more minutes or days or weeks.
So I added “Sabbath Days” to my Ebenezer. And now that my days are easier and the darkness of depression is lifted, I still practice these sabbath days because I long to keep the Lord continually before me. I can usually work for six 30 minute segments before I take a 30 minute break. And when I reach that sabbath segment I am truly thankful for rest. A quiet prayer, a hymn playing in the background, a moment of worship and rest. And soon I am ready to go again . . . looking continually forward to my faithful LORD who guides my days, who graciously leads me in the dark, who provided an example for us to follow so long ago and blessed us with the sabbath . . . because He knew how much we would need Him and His rest.
What is your favorite part of the sabbath? How do you practice the gift of the sabbath in your home?
“Sabbath Days” is shared with other encouraging posts at Titus Tuesday.