I’m ashamed to admit it…some Sundays I attend “Church of the Covers.” That’s my code for sleeping in rather than going to church. I did that last week. Weeks of non-stop busy-ness with work and personal commitments caught up with me physically and mentally. I needed a “time out.”
I slept in but later nursed a horrible guilt hangover. Guilt for not going to church, guilt for taking an hour to read the newspaper over breakfast and guilt for not accomplishing even one thing on my “To Do” list. When I bemoaned my sinful nature, my very wise husband reminded me, “Hey, you go constantly. The body needs rest every seven days. God said so.”
What exactly did God say about Sabbath? In Deuteronomy 5, He instructed the Israelites to do all their work in six days but none on the seventh. Instead rest, He commanded. Keep the Sabbath holy or pure. Dedicate it to the Lord.
Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word meaning “intermission” or “rest.” God created us to take an intermission—a break from our labor, a time out—at least every seven days. But, why when there is so much to be done? What’s the purpose of that intermission?
The answer to that question came when I remembered when Jim and I attended a play or musical. We used intermissions to recharge for the next act. To linger in the lobby. To chat about what’s happened in the show so far. Deuteronomy 5 suggests God created Sabbath for the same reason. God told His children to use that day to take a break from labor to remember the time He brought them out of bondage from Egypt.
God created Sabbath for me to rest, renew and reflect on Him and the blessings He’s showered on me so far. It’s my intermission to worship God as a loving Father, realign priorities and refresh perspective about where He is working in the midst of life. God gave Sabbath to help me stay focused on Him and the main things in life. After all, as theologian William Barclay remarked, “There are few things in life that really matter, but those few things matter intensely.” Am I focused on them?
Mind you, I’m not suggesting that attending church is not important. God wants me to worship individually as well as corporately. But, I am suggesting we all need periodic breaks to rest and remember. To take a Sabbath. To take time out with God.
Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 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…Remember that you were once slaves in the land of Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15, NLT)