My hubby and I crawled into bed on a Thursday night, exhausted from another full week of creating, planning, coaching, pastoring, and leading. The to-do list never ended and the pressing needs of our congregation weighed heavy.
I struggled to turn off my thoughts so I could sleep, then I remembered Friday was almost here. Peace settled over my mind. I wasn’t experiencing the regular TGIF hoopla. This contentment came from our weekly Sabbath practice. Friday has become our favorite day of the week.
I snuggled up to my hubby, and he wrapped his arms around me as I relaxed into his embrace. “Tomorrow’s our Sabbath, Baby. Nothing but rest!” he whispered. I sighed with relief at the joy tomorrow brings.
How about you? Have you and your spouse learned the beauty and grace of Sabbath rest? In a culture that values hustle, striving, and productivity, Sabbath offers permission to step away from the frantic pace and experience the abundance of God through rest. We have the freedom to pause. We create a margin to enjoy God and give our weary bodies and souls a true rest, not out of religious obligation but because of our love for God.
From the very beginning, rest was interwoven into God’s activity. Genesis 2:2 reads: “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.” God set in motion a guide and rhythm for work and rest. Our King imparted the grace of rest because He knew we would benefit from it.
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.” – Exodus 20:8-11 NLT
The word for Sabbath in Hebrew is Shabbat, it means to cease, to stop, to pause, to come to an end. Priscilla Shirer in her book, Breathe says, “The Sabbath was a guard against the children of Israel becoming enslaved again.”
Sabbath is an invitation to freedom! The freedom to release pressure, obligations, and stress. We exchange hustle for peace, comfort, and joy. There’s no need to be shackled by strict rules, instead, we gracefully make choices that will benefit our bodies, minds, and spirits.
-Work of any kind, physical or mental
-Strategize, plan, process, or problem solve
-Mindlessly scroll on our phones
-Spend extended time with God: praying, journaling, Bible reading
-Laugh and have fun
-Cook delicious food
-Read a marriage book together
-Take long naps
-Clear mental space
Sabbath provides space to enjoy God. It can look different for you depending on how you like to experience God. Perhaps it’s a long walk in nature, or you find unrushed moments to linger over His Word or talk to God about what weighs heavy on your heart. We build intimacy with God when we focus on Him instead of our work.
Let’s face it, we’re all busy and time together gets crowded out by our rushing here and there. When we pause, we create space to enjoy each other. Our entire Sabbath is focused on each other and God. What a weekly gift that is to have long meaningful conversations and laugh together. Sabbath makes room for you to focus on your spouse, so you can flourish in your marriage.
There is nothing like rest to restore our bodies and minds. We linger on the couch, sit on the porch, and take long naps. We read in bed. Actual rest is sublimely healing. When you give yourself permission to stop, your body and mind have the opportunity to heal, be refreshed, and able to take on your work when Sabbath is over.
Our only regret is we didn’t start Sabbath sooner in our family. I first started reading and studying Sabbath about eight years ago. We’ve been practicing weekly Sabbath for a few years, and it has become a most life-giving experience.
We have permission to slow down, ease into our day, and linger with God and each other. How gracious of our God to provide for us through the Sabbath.