Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)
For some odd reason, Sabbath is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the church. God originally gave it to a group of former slaves who were used to working 24/7. If they ever fell short in making bricks for their boss Pharaoh, their life was in jeapordy. So essentially they learned that the more work you do, the better your life is.In comes God, who tells them they are worth more than that - and He literally commands them to set aside a day of the week to begin learning what it means to be loved for who you are instead of what you do/produce. This took everyone back to when God rested on the seventh day, not because He had to, but because He knew the value of community with us, Him, and each other.
Unfortunately, we either make Sabbath something legalistic... or something we think of too loosely.
While it is and was a day, it’s more than a day – in its fullness and purity it’s a mindset of restoration through God. It’s more than just one day a week, but all throughout the week.
And it's more than religion - it's about reconnecting with the most important relationships in your life - Him, your household, those around you, and so on.
I wonder... what day of the week does your cell phone get turned off? When are you simply not available to anyone else so you can reconnect with the most important Relationship and relationships in your life?
So basically this is a full scale rebellion at the idea of “get it done now.” And so it was more than a law to be kept… it was a joy to be experienced.
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink,or with regard to a religious festival, a New Mooncelebration or a Sabbath day. (Colossians 2:16)
One man considers one day more sacred than another;another man considers every day alike. Each one shouldbe fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards oneday as special, does so to the Lord. (Romans 14:5-6a)
A few things you can work into most family Sabbath days:
- Start the day with prayer, asking God to show Himself to you through all the things you'll be doing.
- Work on memorizing a Scripture verse experientially. For instance, do Genesis 1:1 on a walk through the woods. Grab a stick and raise it in the air like a sword as you shout it out.
- Turn off anything electronic that could separate you from others (i.e. cell phones, house phones, iPods, etc). But crank up the tunes that get you all singing together.
- Go the library and read books together… let other kids join you if they want because you're making all the cool voices.
- Stay in your pajamas and go to the breakfast at a local restaurant buffet. If people look at you funny, stare their shoes and then say, “Hmm. Interesting.”
- Make a CD or fill your mp3 player with fun songs and praise songs you can sing all day long while you drive… and then, sing them all day long while you drive. Mix it up – Disney tunes and worship tunes get along fine (despite Southern Baptist boycotts).
- Have a special kid's Bible that you use only on this day… something that helps you talk about the lesson or sing a song.
- Play board games together as a family… let the kids win.
- Play video games together as a family… let mom win.
- Buy a virtual pet (WebKinz, etc) for each of your family members – and then spend the afternoon setting up each other's virtual rooms.
- Jump on a trampoline and invent games on the fly that make no sense.
- Work on a family history – use it as a way to call extended family as you do for their insights.
- Say what you need to say… about anything.
- Scrapbook and journal to keep personal and family records.
- Write letters or email to family and friends.
- Have every member of the family pick some part of lunch – and everyone has to eat it.
- Make up stories around the table that involve your family saving the neighborhood using their secret super powers. Then talk about the real mission God has your household a part of to love Him and your neighbors into faith.
- Listen to a Christian kids story (i.e. via HIS Kids online radio) toward the end of one of your meals. Then leave the dishes and finish listening to it together.
- Do the dishes together.
- Teach a younger family member how to cut the lawn.
- Play a game of baseball in the front yard, even though you don't have nearly enough players.
- Visit extended family – bring them a pizza.
- Watch a movie in a room you don't normally watch a movie – maybe a bedroom or living room.
- Find the cheapest way to feed everyone at a fast food place.
- Join a restaurant's e-mail list and use the free coupons they send you to guide where you eat.
- Make omelets, letting each family member pick what they want inside.
- Let the person who seldom gets to sleep in have the chance to sleep in.
- Make a picnic and have it at the park. Do this until you've visited every park in the area over a course of weeks.
- Write an online review of each of the parks in your area.
- Go to a place like Goodwill or Volunteers of America – have each family member buy an inexpensive item for another family member.
- Go bowling – pay for the kids only (to save money) and help them.
- Let whoever plays an instrument in your house, play it… and make up a song to whatever they play.
- Look for unique smells all throughout your day. At the end, talk about the most memorable. Tie it in to how God says we're the smell of “Christ” to the world.
- Go see a movie at a non-typical time.
- Visit the local zoos
- Hit the beach.
- Visit the local pool or splash pad.
- Go for a bike ride that gets progressively bigger (i.e bike to the end of your driveway and back, then the end of your block and back, and then the end of your street and back, and so on). Tie it into how God helps us grow one step at a time.
- Coordinate reading a book with watching a movie (i.e. Stuart Little, Willy Wonka, etc). Talk about the way imagination and visuals work together, and let them turn into a chat on how heaven will blow our minds when we take part in it.
- Go see a baseball game and cheer on your team – whether they're little league or professionals.
- Hit a local school running track – and race each other. Be sure to do crazy stuff, like wheelbarrow races and so on.
- Shop for a local food pantry.
- Make extra food and share it with a neighbor.
- Invite a neighbor you barely know over for an outdoor picnic.
- Fly a kite – talk about how God is like the wind… you can't see Him with your eyes, but you can the effects of Him like you do the wind
- Watch the sun rise and the sun set – talk about the way God set up the planets in balance.
- Recap what you learned from your last round of a church gathering or class, and then come up with an application about it for that day.
- Make a video – let the kids write and direct.
- Create birthday cards for extended family members in advance.
- Tell a story by having each person add only a line at a time.
- Look through a telescope while you play an appropriate song - How Great Is Our God, God Of Wonders, etc.
- Lie in the grass. Talk about whatever you see in the sky and think of as many things about each that make it unique.
- Stare at bugs. Touch bugs. Laugh when you run away from bugs.
- Push back from the table, look into each other's eyes, and say nothing with your voices… but communicate what really matters as bet as you can.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."(2 Timothy 3:16)
Maybe first you can build a baby step of rest into the everyday routine.
- Eat a meal each day with your family or a good friend.
- Or instead of working through your lunch hour, just enjoy the chicken salad sandwich that you bought from the gas station that day… may it be the best chicken salad sandwich ever.
- Or get up ten extra minutes and read something amazing out of the Bible that was written years ago and yet can speak power into your life today.
What we know is that God has commanded us to cease work one day a week. Jesus is our example - He took regular breaks, even though there were certainly moments where He was heaven-bent on getting somewhere. But even though He has purpose, He isn't driven… He's meandering and storytelling, stopping at any old beggar, blind man, soldier, or prostitute to BE.
So much of our lives are squandered in inattentiveness. We're hardly present for most of our own existence.Sabbath allows us to be fully present and fully awake right now, right here. It creates a thankfulness as we see the world and open our eyes to God's beauty and richness.
The more you give thanks, the more you are thankful, and then the more you have cause for thankfulness. It's an upward spiral. Sabbath is to delight in God's salvation and creation.
And it's like tithing - you gain by giving away.
You gain seeing how God throws open the blessings of heaven everyday. But here's the rub: you lose an edge of impatience, thinking the world is about you and you need more time.