One of the delights of the Sabbath is that we are free to set aside so much that occupies our time on other days. If we set aside our regular work every Tuesday (for example) or if we skipped out on a weekly commitment every week we would be sinning. It is a glorious thing to have a purpose, to have been created with purpose, for work that matters, and that will impact others (even in other generations, without us really knowing how).
Yet, it is a glorious thing to set it aside as we celebrate the Sabbath. We remember that the world still turns even though we do not do our “normal” work for a day. Life does not fall apart because we rest. In Him all things hold together! Not in me, or in you. (see Colossians 1)
Some view the “weekend” like a possession, it is mine! The whole weekend I can do what I want!!! I work for “the man” all week, and play all weekend. Well, if we want to enjoy God and glorify Him, then our “wants” will line up with His. We will want to Sabbath, we will celebrate the Sabbath. We will not begrudge this as a restriction on our lives, but as a glorious freedom to rest.
Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. He will give you the desire to be with Him, to enjoy Him, to enjoy His renewing and refreshing presence.
In Him we find life, and renewal. To spend an extended time on the Sabbath glorying in that truth is such a blessing. Engaging in the Sabbath with your whole being (heart-soul-might) will usher you into the truth, beauty and goodness you long for.
To grow weary of ‘having to go to church’ and ‘having to sit through a twenty minute sermon’ reveals something about your heart. It does not reveal that “church” needs to change to “get with the times” or to cater to your whims. Rather, it reveals how much of your old self you have yet to lay down at the cross; it reveals that your old man is calling you away from walking in the Spirit.
The Sabbath a Delight
The Sabbath is not a time to merely meet a checklist of do’s and don’ts. It is rather a time to say “my weary soul needs a long draught from Your River of Delights!” I’ve written elsewhere about preparing for the Sabbath, it may be a help, you can find it here. Meanwhile, how do you take in that draught?
We are ‘sensible’ creatures, so as you ponder ‘how’ think through how your body and heart are connected. How will your senses taking in your surroundings impact your ability to rest, to slow down, to lay down your burdens, to seek Him extra?
A few suggestions:
Take some time to review passages you’ve memorized, and use them as a springboard for prayer.
Have dinner with another family or couple or group of friends from church; discuss the sermon and what you’ve been reading throughout the week.
Set aside a book to read, your special “Sunday” book; one that will point you to Christ, and help you delight in His Word. Some of my favorites, I choose to re-read portions of on any given Sunday. (Calvin’s Institutes, or John Owen’s “Communion with God” or Edward’s “Religious Affections” or various essays.) My upcoming Sunday book for the next few months of 2022 will be R.M. McCheyne’s “A Basket of Fragments.”
Find some way of enjoying the good gifts He’s given you. Be consciously thankful for all the little things you may normally overlook, spend some time offering up thanks. Perhaps even journal these thankful moments.
Spend a bit of extra time outdoors. We were created to live on this planet, yet most people spend their entire week disconnected from that knowledge by staying indoors, walking on asphalt, forgetting that food does not originate from a store (rather than an animal or the ground…), never looking up at the stars, or listening the birds, or seeking out the beauty in each season.
Play, yet remember this is not the time to squeeze in another workout. Why? Because the Sabbath is not about you, or your goals. Playing a game with my children is always good, their laughter is refreshing. Or a bike ride, or lawn games, or walking through a nearby park with lovely gardens…
Set a scene that allows you to relax, and helps you set aside thoughts of work and productivity. Perhaps a beautiful tea cup or a favorite mug with a cozy beverage. Perhaps a firebowl to sit around, or a hammock to swing in. Perhaps a beautiful table to sit at while reading or journaling (fresh flowers, or tea lights…).
Pick a passage to study (rather than just reading), read through a commentary that will help you further understand, look through the atlas, really picture what you are trying to get a handle on. Some commentaries are available online for free. Be careful of popular online resources though. Some newer video resources have been subtly mixing in the notion that propitiation for our sins was not the reason Jesus died on the cross. But this is a topic to converse over a cup of tea or coffee.
Double or triple your daily Scripture reading. You have the time, but it takes intention to make this happen. I like to read extra Psalms especially. Some of the ‘extra’ could come from passages mentioned in the sermon you sit under. Write down the references that you want to linger over later, then read the whole surrounding chapter.
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will delight yourself in the LORD…Isaiah 58:13f