60 Days to . . . A Rested Life
The fourth commandment is the longest of the commandments. It starts: "Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." You may think, Oh, a day off a week! That would be wonderful! But it's too good to be true; I just don't have the time …
In a Kyria interview with Keri Wyatt Kent, she explained that her spiritual mentor used to tell her, "You have all the time in the world to do what God calls you to do." And God is calling you to take a break. Every week. To live by a 24/6 rhythm instead of our culture's 24/7 one. So to help you get started and stay motivated, we've provided a helpful, easy, and quick 60-day guide focused on Sabbath-keeping. May it revolutionize how you look at and think about time—and may it bring you overwhelming joy, peace, and rest as you strive to be obedient to God's will.
"Lord, slow me down. Help me to value rest and spending time with you more than simply accomplishing more. Help me to find the sacred in the ordinary and to find joy in the commonplace. Most of all, help me to focus on you. Amen."
What would it take for you to set aside an entire 24 hours for a Sabbath? What would you need to get rid of and what would you need to change? Decide on one action to move toward this goal.
Make the words of the hymn, "Jesus, I Am Resting" your prayer.
Check out this lighthearted yet powerful video, "One Day Outta Seven."
Write about what seems stressful to you right now. Now write how a Sabbath rest might help balance that stress.
In the midst of any busy time this week, pause in the middle of your busyness and pray, "Lord, help me to see you in this."
This week, plan your Sabbath. Think about the demands on your time, then decide how you need to adjust your schedule in order to better honor the Sabbath.
" 'Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work' (Exodus 20:8). Is it possible for a human being to do all his work in six days? Does not our work always remain incomplete? What the verse means to convey is: Rest on the Sabbath as if all your work were done. Another interpretation: Rest even from the thought of labor."— Abraham Joshua Heschel
Make a list of activities that help you focus on God and enjoy him. Commit to pursue these activities on the Sabbath. Keep this list where you can refer to it each week.
Take the list you made from Day 9 and write what it is about each of those activities on that list that bring joy and closeness to Christ.
This week, try looking forward to the Sabbath and preparing to rest in God's provision. Plan a few ways you will enjoy his presence.
In order to accomplish all your work, you'll probably need help. Get family members involved! Explain to your family that you'd like to take a day off. But that means you need their help. Delegate tasks and chores so that everyone can enjoy and rest on the Sabbath.
Have you ever wondered how the Jews celebrate and observe the Sabbath? Take a few moments to consider Sabbath's roots.
"Lord, help me to find joy in you during this Sabbath time. Take away the sense of duty and make me giddy with the privilege and satisfaction of being with you. Amen."
This week, try intentionally reflecting on what you experience on the Sabbath, remembering what God showed you and welcoming his ongoing shaping of you.
Read and consider:
Some observers of Sabbath can take it to the extreme. But read what Jesus had to say about any strict legalism toward the Sabbath in Mark 2:27-28. How can you apply that to your life and work?
View this video and allow it to help you bring all your senses to life on the Sabbath and every day, to enjoy the Creator's work.
Kyria's senior marketer, Beatrice Rusu, discusses what she's learned about Sabbath dos and don'ts in her blog post, "Wholehearted Sabbath."
"Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week."—Alice Walker
Play is an essential component of Sabbath. So ask yourself these questions: What do I like to do for fun? What's rejuvenating and enjoyable? What activity, when I do it, causes me to forget about my stress and lose track of time?
"Lord, today help me to remember my limitations and my dependence on you, and to rest as an acknowledgment that you meet my needs."
"Breathing Space" by Keri Wyatt Kent—an article that offers three ways to create more room in your life for God.
Allow the words and photos of this video lead you into worshiping our great God.
Read and consider:
"Our Restless Lives" by Susan Arico.
Go back to your answers from Day 20. What did you list? Write about what makes these activities enjoyable? And what really keeps you from participating in them more fully? Are there things you could do to make space for them?
Read your journal entry from Day 25, and determine to do at least one of those fun activities you listed. No excuses!
"The Sabbath is a weekly cathedral raised up in my dining room, in my family, in my heart."—Anita Diament
"Lord, give me your holy perspective and help me to remember that what I strive for in this world—more and more productivity—will not result in anything lasting. Only what you produce in and through me will last."
"A world without a Sabbath would be like a man without a smile, like a summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden. It is the joyous day of the whole week."—Henry Ward Beecher.
Are Beecher's words true of you? Why or why not?
Preparing for the Sabbath means you get to take the day off from cooking (if that feels like work for you)! So check out these make-ahead recipes to give you some time out of the kitchen on the Sabbath.
"The happiness of heaven is the constant keeping of the Sabbath. Heaven is called a Sabbath, to make those who have Sabbaths long for heaven, and those who long for heaven love Sabbaths."—Philip Henry
Be available to your family and friends this Sabbath. Remove your watch and allow yourself to enjoy the gift of family and friends.
Read and consider:
In Deuteronomy 5:15, God reminds the Israelites that they were once slaves but now they are free. Slaves don't get a day off. What does that aspect of the Sabbath mean for you today?
"Secular People Need Sabbaths Too" from Kyria's sister resource Her*meneutics.
When did the Sabbath day change from Saturday (the traditional Jewish Sabbath day) to Sunday (the Christian Sabbath day)? Click here to read the answer.
Ponder and Act:
Author Amy Julia Becker reminds us the "The Sabbath command in Deuteronomy 5 explicitly mentions that the Sabbath is a gift for the foreigner, to ensure that not only the Jews but also those who work for them receive a day of rest." Her article "No Shopping on Sundays" explains more. Based on this passage, determine to give up running errands and shopping on the Sabbath.
"The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments."— Abraham Joshua Heschel
"God, may I live out the Sabbath in my everyday life, so that others will see you in me and be drawn to your goodness and love."
"God's Gift of Rest" by Lynne Babb
Sabbath isn't simply something we do personally (although that's part of observing the day), but it also takes on a communal aspect. Write about the ways in which being part of a community has helped you grow in Christ.
Sometimes the best way to practice the Sabbath is to take a retreat—or to allow your spouse to go on one. For more ideas on how to give that gift to your spouse, read, "The Best Gift to Give Your Spouse." (Or feel free to pass it to your spouse to read!)
Watch and act:
"There seems to be no surer way to sacralize time or space than lighting a candle, and no quieter quiet than the silence of candlelight …. You don't find candles lit in frenetic houses; you find them lit in house where people are trying to pay attention.—Lauren Winner, Mudhouse Sabbath. Watch this video, then decide to include lighting candles as part of your Sabbath experience.
Read Hebrews 4. Ponder what it means for you.
Allow the words of the song "Here with Me" by Mercy Me move you into worship.
"Lord, forgive me for the many times when I've ignored or neglected your desires for me. Thank you for the gift of the Sabbath, a day set apart to honor you and rest from my work. Help me to take that day seriously, and to never break that commandment again. Amen."
Now that you're halfway through discovering the power and promise of keeping the Sabbath, write about what you've learned so far. How has God felt closer, sweeter, more real to you?
Was Sabbath a part of your weekly ritual growing up? What did your Sabbath ritual look like?
"Shabbat is like nothing else. Time as we know it does not exist for those twenty-four hours, and the worries of the week soon fall away. A feeling of joy appears. The smallest object, a leaf or a spoon, shimmers in a soft light, and the heart opens. Shabbat is a meditation of unbelievable beauty."—Lauren Winner
According to the Jews, the week's crown jewel is the Sabbath. Everything leads up to it in preparation, and everything following it is a reflection of it. Write about the ways in which practicing the Sabbath has transformed your thinking about the rest of the week's days.
Read the poem "Come Rest Awhile" by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Write about what you have learned about yourself through the spiritual practice of Sabbath-keeping. In what ways have you become calmer, more rested?
Make a list of the things you need to accomplish this week and when you will complete each thing in order to protect this week's Sabbath.
When feelings of guilt surface because you feel you can't accomplish everything you need to, allow yourself the gift of freedom from guilt and worry, with the understanding that God will give you the time to do what he calls you to do when you obey him.
In today's culture we're bombarded to take a day off for yourself. How does this cultural mantra coincide with the biblical commandment of Sabbath? In what ways does it differ?
Look up Isaiah 58:13-14. What does it mean for you?
"Blessed are you, O Lord, who created me and understands my needs. Thank you for rest and Sabbath. Thank you for giving to me. And thank you for being a God who loves and wants the best for his children."
start a Sabbath prayer/blessings journal in which you write out your prayers each week. Spend time looking over those prayers/blessings each Sabbath to see how God has led you in your Sabbath-keeping obedience.
"In my experience, Sabbath is the kingpin of a life pattern that is ordered to honor God and open ourselves to his goodness and love."—Ruth Haley Barton
Want to continue diving into the wonderful depths of Sabbath? Check out these top books on Sabbath.
"Thank you, God, for the freeing gift of the Sabbath that you give me each week. May I always be a willing and joyful participant by receiving it from your hands."
Copyright © 2011 by the author or Christianity Today/Kyria.com.
Click here for reprint information.
Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women
60 Days to . . . A Rested Life
Read These Next
- TCW Talks with . . . Angela ThomasA Q&A with about genuine joy
- What Not to Say to Single Women in the ChurchPlease don’t tell me I just need to stop “thinking” about getting married.
Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter