Last week in our conversation about Rest, we had a chance to introduce the culturally-foreign idea called Sabbath.
In the very rhythm of creation, Sabbath exists as time built in for rest. Even, when life seems hectic and out of control, rest is a vital part of our existence. It’s the ability to cease, not only from doing our work, but even from worrying about it.
To put it simply, it’s a must.
When I was a kid, I practiced a martial art called Aikido(eye-key-do).
One of the core principals that the Sensei would reinforce is that the only way to 'master' a technique, was to practice it a thousand times.
Each class, we would work on the same techniques over and over, covering different scenarios and working with different instructors. We put in the work. We practiced.
Over the course of several years, we worked on no more than a handful of techniques.
The amount of nuance, detail and precision made us excellent.
This is an incredible approach to teaching, because it levels the playing field. Everyone takes the posture of a learner, whether they have been practicing for years, or just a few days.
It acknowledges that learning takes time.
Even if it appears like you have something down the first time, it’s not legitimate until it’s mastered. The emphasis is on knowing it inside and out.
Rest Takes Practice
It's really lame that the above statement is true. I wish it was different. But to be truthful, meaningful, sabbath rest like we talked about last week doesn’t come naturally to us.
We need to play the long-game, realizing that this kind of rest is so valuable, that it's worth the work, planning, and 'inconvenience.'
Our culture has lost a commitment to healthy activities that are hard work.
It’s much easier to check out, to overeat and flip on the TV. And initially, it might feel better.
It'd be unrealistic to think that the first time you Sabbath, it’ll be easy. It might be, but it wasn’t for me. It was excruciating. It was frustrating. It was hard.
Either way, we’re all learners, and the practice of Sabbath rest takes practice.
The Main Things
There are a few things that are central to Sabbath rest. These are the non-negotiables.
- Cease: it’s an act of trusting God with your work, and gives you a chance to enjoy it. Don’t spend it worrying about what you have to do, or who might be trying to get ahold of you. The odds are good that life will go on. Prepare in advance to get to a good stopping point on your work (if such a thing exists).
- Worship: It’s an opportunity to take every moment of the day, and commit it to God. Be thankful for the good things that God has made, and the good works that he has done! Take every moment, from waking up, to the first sip of coffee, to the last deep breath before falling asleep to connect the dots and thank the one who gave it to you.
Things Learned Along the Way
Here are some things I’ve learned are important through experience.
Prepare: It’s wise to create an environment that will be restful for you. Clean the house the night before, do the dishes, make some meals for your day, or save money to go out.
Spend Time Alone: Don’t miss out on some personal time space to be alone with God. Pray, read, respond in thankfulness for the week. Silence and solitude are good. (Talking to you extroverts!)
Involve People: The Sabbath is an act that is supposed to create community. If you’re single, conspire with some of your best friends and do it together! If you have a family, lead them into it, paint a picture of what it could be like, and create space for your family to rest the best way they can. Don’t do all of it alone. (Talking to you introverts!)
Do Things That Stir Your Heart Towards God: This sounds silly, but find the things that are most deeply restful for you. This has taken some time for me. You might not know. Our lives involve so much pretense that it might take awhile for you to discover some activities that are helpful. You might not actually like hiking. You might not actually like that latte on your Instagram story. That’s fine.
It’s Not About What You Do: I’ve stressed way too much about ‘what activity I will do that will magically make me feel new.’ You will find things you love, but remember it’s not as much about what you’re doing, as much as it is about how you’re doing it. The worshipful attitude is super important.
Turn It Off: Being present is something our culture doesn’t understand. It’s essential on the Sabbath (probably on the other days too ;). Judge for yourself how far you need to go, but I’d encourage you to at least try a day without your phone on, or at least without social media/notifications. You might realize you’re addicted (I did).
Have a Consistent Day: It might sound unnecessary, but I noticed it got easier with time to do Sabbath rest on the same day each week. If I miss it, I feel it physically. This also references the Genesis idea of 'the week.'
What It Looks Like For Me
I want to make it clear, I’m a learner here. I’m by no means an expert, and don’t feel like I’ve ‘gotten it down’ by any means.
For the sake of storytelling, here are some ways I’ve experienced Sabbath.
I sleep in a little, and make coffee first thing. I usually get some time before Kelsee wakes up to spend in the Scriptures and prayer.
We eat breakfast, and usually read some of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book The Sabbath. We're currently also doing a devotion time together.
After that, on some of our best Sabbaths, Kelsee and I have gone to places like Silver Creek Falls in the winter(the photo for this post is from there this winter), and North Fork in the summer. Other days we’ll head over to Archive for coffee and since our Sabbath is usually on Fridays, we grab Bigwig Donuts as well.
Sometimes we like to go up to Portland and hang out at Good Coffee, and grab food at whatever restaurant I’ve been reading about lately.
Thought-provoking movies are one of the most restful things to me. They remind me of the important things about life.
We’ll usually spend the night in. That’s a special treat for us.
On our worst days, we've gone shopping. There's nothing that makes us more tired, greedy and unsatisfied then trying to mix those two things. Or we talked about stressful things like finances, or brought up things that created conflict, rather than peace (aka arguing ;)
Take some time this week to try it! Prepare ahead to cease and worship.
Also, go see Rogue One. It's awesome. (see told you i love thought-provoking movies hehe).
We'll talk about the process of change. What does it look like for us to change our habits and rhythms? What about when it feels like we just can't change? This will go be directed at rest, but it's applicable far beyond it.
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