14. Sabbath: A Change of Pace

After a week in Savannah, I have to admit my spirits are lightened. Although I was excited about the trip, my controlling side needed some reassurance that the trip wouldn’t set us back a week and take us out of reach of our adoption agency. With all the plates Matt and I have found ourselves rushing back and forth to keep spinning, it was hard to realize that we needed a break even though we both found ourselves exhausted. As I’m sure many of you have experienced, vacations are wonderful until you get back and then it feels like you need another vacation to recuperate and catch up with the duties that were put on hold. And while this was true for us, God has a sense of humor which I of course have to share with you about this week.

We left a week ago for a small island off of Savannah, GA. The drive down was beautiful, taking us through what might be my favorite city, Charleston, SC. It took about two hours of driving to realize we were on vacation. I looked at Matt, just as we were pulling into South Carolina, and said, “We’re on vacation.”

He looked confused and replied, “Yeah?”

“For a week.”

“Dang straight.”

“Matt, we’re on vacation for a whole week!”

He laughed and let that truth sink in. It is true that neither of us put down our responsibilities easily. We know that one of the most important commands God gives us (it’s one of the big ten by the way) is to take a Sabbath. We have experienced and understand the benefits of taking time to rest and to change the pace of our lives at regular intervals. We are not designed to be running a hundred miles an hour seven days a week. Genesis 2:2 says that “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.” If God in all his sovereignty and supremacy finds value in taking a break from time to time, who am I to think I can work without ceasing and still remain healthy and sound of mind?

For four days straight we enjoyed time with family, which is so hard to come by. We fished about five hours a day, swam in the ocean, explored the city of Savannah, ate new and exotic foods, and just celebrated time with each other and with God. While enjoying a walk around downtown Savannah that first day, a phrase I heard from a pastor years ago, although I cannot for the life of me remember who it was, came to mind. “Sometimes when you need a change of pace, you need a change of place.” While I could have relaxed in the comfort of my living room with my coffee, my husband, and my dog for a few days, chances are while sitting on the couch I’d notice the dust on the bookshelves, the overgrown hedges in our front yard, my dog’s nose marks on the windows, and just felt the insatiable urge to clean, organize, trim, and work. But there, in Savannah, those urges were far from my mind, and for the first time in several months, I was able to relax unencumbered by the many responsibilities I find myself surrounded by on a daily basis.

God’s humor came through on day four of the vacation when my family was sitting around the campsite eating lunch when my mother asked, “What do we want to do on our last afternoon of vacation?”

I thought the woman was crazy.

“Mom, we have two more days to decide that, what are we going to do today?”

Then everyone thought I was crazy.

“Amanda, today’s the last day we’re camping. We’re heading out in the morning!”

Sure enough, the month leading up to the trip I had the dates wrong all along. If that’s not indicative of the need for a break I don’t know what is! I looked at Matt, who was just as confused as I was, and asked, “Well, we’re off until Thursday, so what do you want to do for the next two days?”

We decided to come home and enjoy a two-day staycation to recuperate from the camping trip, catch up on some laundry, play with our dog, and spend some much needed time with each other. Somehow, God tricked me, one of the most organized women he’s ever created, into having two extra days of time to slowly reintegrate myself back to the dozens of spinning plates we had waiting for us at home. And the funny thing is, as I was picking these responsibilities back up, I found joy in them. I found great joy in writing the blog this morning! I washed the dishes last night and felt grateful for the quiet “me” time it provided with one of my favorite playlists. I even picked up my jewelry hammer and tinkered with some new jewelry designs for my shop again, which I’ve been wary of for months. The break did not remove my responsibilities, but it gave me the space I needed to appreciate them again, for which I am so grateful.

If you are looking at your daily agenda with dread, or if you feel that the number of things on your to-do list is about to drown you, I cannot stress to you the importance of taking a step back to breathe before taking another step forward. I know I’m one to talk, but even if you can just take the afternoon to go an hour out of town, grab a coffee from your favorite coffee shop, get a manicure, have your best friends over for dinner, or lock yourself away for an hour with your favorite book, the idea of taking time to rest is not just a temptation, it’s biblical. It is commandment number four on the list of the Ten Commandments, two bullet points above “You must not murder.” God knows that when we are busy, he becomes the last thing on our minds, and he demands to be first. He also knows that we are very simple creatures whose perspectives become distorted so quickly if we do not take time to recalibrate on him weekly.

For some, taking a day off in the week may seem impossible. This is my mentality more often than not. If this is your belief then I would encourage you to take a Sabbath as an act of faith this week that the responsibilities God has given you will work out, and that for no other reason than your God commands it, you will observe a day of rest and enjoy the many blessings God has given you. It doesn’t matter what day you choose, it just matters that you take it. For Matt and me, we are so involved in service teams in our church that Sunday is rarely if ever a day of rest for us, so we take Friday to Saturday night as our “day” of rest. If you work on the weekends, perhaps a weekday might be your best choice. My prayer for you this morning is that you will seriously consider the insertion of rest into your weekly routine so that you can enjoy the benefits God has in store for you when you take his wisdom to heart. It is my intention to do just this as well, so know that I will be fighting the good struggle of rest right alongside you!

 

Verses to Consider:

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

Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. –ISAIAH 58:13-14

And I gave them my Sabbath days of rest as a sign between them and me. It was to remind them that I am the Lord, who had set them apart to be holy. –EZEKIEL 20:12

 

A Prayer for Your Day:

Lord, I praise you for being a God who encourages rest. So often I work myself to death over duties which I think are more important than spending time resting with and celebrating you. I might not see this in the heat of my tasks, but when I do sit down and rest, I am able to see how trivial these responsibilities are. Help me to see and remember how important it is to just sit at your feet and worship you. In comparison nothing else matters. Lord as I sit here and plan my week, I pray that I would keep Exodus 2 in mind. I pray that I would work hard for six days and then once my work is finished, set aside a day to praise you for helping me get through it. Even Jesus took time to go off by himself to spend time with and rest in you (2 Cor.7-10). If Jesus needed time to rest in you, help me to believe that my toils to get everything done and in order are in vain because only you can give rest and sleep to those you love (Psalm 127:2). Help me to keep you in the forefront of my mind as I prepare for the coming week.

In Jesus’s name,

Amen.

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