For several years, I have faithfully observed a Sabbath on Sunday. When I started this practice, it was really just in an attempt to breathe and simply enjoy my life. I was running seven days a week, always trying to push my life toward the next thing, the next thing, the next thing. One more step, one more decision, one more opportunity, one more, one more, one more, and it was killing me. So I decided that on Sundays, I would take a step back. I would stop pushing. I would rest.
I would breathe.
I thought that what I needed was a temporary break, that Sabbath would be, for me, only a season. That it was unsustainable as a life practice, at least to some degree. I figured that after a few months or maybe a year of this, I would have the refreshment that I needed and be willing to go hard-bore again. I figured it wouldn't be too long before I would go back to my seven-day-a-week schedule, stuffing Sabbath back in my pocket for a time when I would need it again.
That was six years ago.
The truth is that as time presses on, I continue to press myself deeper into this Sabbath rest. What started out as one day a week where I did not use the Internet became a day when I did not turn my computer on at all. Then it became a day where I did not do any work, even homework, because that was a draw back into my busy, hectic life. Then I decided that some work would be okay. Then I decided that on Sundays, I don't even use my cell phone. I don't text, check my Bible app, sync my fitness tracker, nothing. Then I stopped even wearing my fitness tracker. Who needs to count steps on a Sunday? I take it off on Saturday night before falling asleep and don't put it back on until Monday morning.
Then earlier this year, I read something in my Bible and now, I don't even shop on Sundays. No fast food. No "I forgot _____ at the store yesterday, so I'll just stop on my way home from church." None of that.
That doesn't mean I sit around on my fanny on Sundays and don't do anything; that would be a misunderstanding, as well. I have picked up some chaplain shifts on Sundays, even though at first, I was not keen on this idea. If my mother is having computer trouble, I will work on her laptop for her. I visit friends and neighbors, talk with people, play with the dogs, give the dogs a bath. Sometimes, I vacuum the house or dust my desk. Yesterday, I spent the day sewing. I watch NASCAR in the spring and summer, football in the fall and winter. I cook a big meal, usually enough to last a few days into the week, and sometimes, I bake.
It's been hard for others, looking in, to "figure out" my Sabbath. Because they think Sabbath means rest, and it does, but they think that rest means doing nothing. It does not. There is plenty of opportunity, even on the Sabbath, for doing. But Sabbath requires an intentionality not only about what I do, but how I do it and for what reasons.
I have often heard other say, "Sabbath? I wish I could do that..." as though what I am doing is either some tremendous feat of personal discipline or some extravagant luxury that modern life simply will not accommodate. Neither is particularly true. Some Sabbath practices are harder than others; some are inconvenient at times. Sometimes, my Sabbath practice conflicts with God's command to love others, and here, I have to make some hard choices. But it's doable. And it's worth it.
So I thought I would take a few days this week and talk about my Sabbath practice, some of the guides that I draw from Scripture about how to rest and how to make this period of rest meaningful, and some of the challenges this presents. If you are interested in incorporating the practice of Sabbath in your life, stay tuned. It is my hope that some of my Sabbath may help you to figure out how you want to do yours.