What are we to do when we fall away from our discipline, when we slip so far from the practices that we have put in our lives to glorify God?
For most of us, the answer is that we condemn ourselves. We hate on ourselves for our failures, and we promise we're going to do better. We start to carry around this heavy weight of guilt that we think we somehow deserve, so that every time we are tempted to start falling down the same slippery slope again, we remember how much this heaviness sucks and we stop ourselves, cursing ourselves in our own spirits for even thinking about doing such a thing again.
Let me tell you (in case you don't already know) - that doesn't work. It doesn't work, and it's not what God wants for us.
As much as we want to pretend that we are, we are simply not a species motivated by guilt. Not consistently, anyway. Sure, we might do a thing or two to try to ease our guilty conscience, but the truth is that it isn't very satisfying and it doesn't take long until we just don't even care about guilt any more. It's not a good motivator.
Neither, really, is a sense of commitment or promise. This would be our other natural inclination - we would keep reminding ourselves of the commitment we made, of the promise we made, of the vow (to call it that) that we made to God to do something like keep a Sabbath. We promised. We said we would. So we should. No matter what.
This doesn't last very long, either. None of us is motivated by that kind of life. A commitment becomes a drudgery after not very long at all. It becomes a grind. It becomes something we're doing just because we said we were going to do it and not because we love it or even value it or even think it's a good idea any more. We just..."have" to? So we do. And then, we grow to hate it.
Again, probably not a secret, but God does not want us to hate the things that we do that glorify Him. Glorifying God is not supposed to be a drudgery.
How, then, do we come back from the slippery slope? How, then, do we get back into the groove of a discipline that we've fallen away from? How do we reclaim the holy things in our lives that we let slip away?
By developing a hunger for them.
By letting our souls crave them.
By listening to the echoes of the empty spaces in our lives that have been left hollow by what is no longer there, what is no longer filling them.
I didn't reclaim my Sabbath because I felt guilty or because I made a promise ten years ago to keep a Sabbath; I reclaimed my sabbath because my soul was hungry for it. My spirit was hungry for rest. There was an ache deep inside of me that I could no longer ignore, and it wasn't the ache of a failed commitment; it was the gnawing burn of a deep need for something I no longer had - a Sabbath.