I finally have a day off.
Believing that God wants us to take a day out every week as our “Sabbath,” I’ve set aside every Thursday as my day of rest and reflection. (Sunday might be traditional, but it doesn’t work for us, since we volunteer in our church’s café at 6 a.m., then attend Sunday school followed by the service, then take my dad out for lunch and shopping afterward. We get home mid- to late afternoon, exhausted.)
Taking Thursday off might be my intention, but it doesn’t always fit reality. For the last few weeks, I’ve spent the day packing for a camping trip, cleaning the house for guests, balancing our checkbook and paying bills… and I couldn’t do those things earlier because I was doing other important and urgent things. Life happens. But this week, I’m taking a day off to rest, relax, drink tea, read, pray, and contemplate the state of my world. It’s heaven.
I used to assume that God had physical rest in mind when he created the Sabbath. After all, there are all those Old Testament prohibitions about carrying burdens, working in the fields, gathering manna (or preparing a more traditional meal)—all physical tasks. But lately I’ve come to realize that giving our bodies a day off from manual labor is just the beginning.
When I don’t take a Sabbath, I begin to lose touch with God. My prayers are hurried affairs, such as “please provide my Swazi support” or “please comfort that grieving family.” I don’t take the time to sit at his feet and hear his heart. Just as with any other relationship, extended quality time together is important.
When I don’t take the time to pray, I begin to become anxious. Life is full of perfectly valid reasons to worry, and they all begin to parade around in my head, wearing ruts into the circuitry of my brain. I find myself focused on me rather than God, or others. It’s pretty disgusting how self-centered I can be. My self-control goes out the window, whether I’m faced with an inept driver or a piece of chocolate cake. All the bad habits I’ve amassed over a lifetime come flooding back, because the power to hold them at bay isn’t mine, it’s God’s.
One sure sign that I’m overdue for a day with God is when I sit down to write a post for this blog and find I have nothing to say. It’s not just writer’s block. How can I talk about what God is doing in my life if I have no idea what he’s up to? It’s out of the fullness of my heart that the ideas flow.
You, the reader, may not notice my dry spells. When I overflow with insight and inspiration, I find myself writing post after post, the words pouring out as fast as I can type (which is pretty fast!). I spread these posts out, scheduling things over the next several weeks. By the time they’ve all appeared on my blog, hopefully the Holy Spirit will have taken me through a new set of lessons, and the cycle begins all over again.
In addition, I like to intersperse some fun posts to entertain and delight… recipes, funny stories, whatever strikes me as entertaining and worth sharing. We can’t be heavy and serious all the time!
I rarely run low on material, so when I looked at my blog calendar and saw that the coming weeks were pretty blank, it was obvious that I was long overdue for a retreat day. Please understand, I’m not spending time with God in order to come up with something to write about. It’s more that when I don’t have anything to write about, it’s an indication that God and I really need some quality time together.
I’ve finished my tea; I think I’ll go have that chat right now. Thankfully, I never have to wonder whether he’s got the time to spend with me.