Saturday March 20 – Day 32 – SABBATH, SABBATH

 In Lenten Devotional

Saturday March 20 – Day 32 – SABBATH, SABBATH

“But first, you must start
respecting the Sabbath
    as a joyful day of worship.
You must stop doing and saying
whatever you please
    on this special day.
Then you will truly enjoy
    knowing the Lord.
He will let you rule
    from the highest mountains
and bless you with the land
of your ancestor Jacob.
    The Lord has spoken!” – Isaiah 58:13-14 (CEV)

Funny that this passage falls on a Saturday but to be honest, there was a bit of design on my part to make this happen.  So much has been talked about in the church but so rarely has the term “sabbath” been more ignored or misunderstood.  In the same way, these last two verses of this chapter have also been misunderstood as well.

The concept of sabbath rest is critical to our understanding of Lent and the journey to the cross.  We are called to follow God’s pattern:  after He created the universe, He rested.  We are called on the sabbath to rest from our work and to refrain from thinking about work.  These two verses have been misinterpreted as meaning that we are not to seek our own pleasure on the sabbath.  The true meaning of the phrase “You must stop doing and saying whatever you please” refers to speaking about matters pertaining to business, not leisure.  You are to stop doing and saying whatever you please with regards to your work.  You must not let your servants or employees work either.   This must be clearly understood: God desires you to rest.

Sabbath rest is always meant to happen before the start of new important work.  It is not meant to be recovery time but what I like to call “building up time”.  When I worked with Pastor Don, he made very clear to me the importance of not working on gatherings on Saturdays:  for those in ministry, Saturday is their true sabbath.  He was always so good at preparing his messages and work in advance that it gave me the freedom and luxury to plan music for our gatherings.  When Saturday came, I could enjoy it (for the most part) with my family.  I loved this rhythm and found that it worked well for me.  I learned very early on as well that gigging on a Saturday night was also not the best thing for me on a Sunday and began to stop the majority of Saturday shows (save for our tribute shows for Gracenotes).  I rested before the work of leading our community in worship, and it made me more alert, aware and focused on the work at hand.  Sabbath Rest for us should always precede an important job or project.

When we went into lockdown and Pastor Melissa and I had to work with the rhythms of the pandemic, I spent a lot of Saturdays working.  I found that by the time I got to Sunday I was wiped out and feeling completely spent.  For me, my leading suffered and I tried to find ways to find a balance.  Even though the work I was doing was trying to lead people into the presence of God, I was not giving my best to God.  Now there are times that if I have to work on Saturday to get ready for our Sunday gatherings, I will take a sabbath rest on a day during the week to regain my balance.  This has made all the difference in the world.  We need our sabbath!

For a lot of us who have been working from home during the pandemic, it has been difficult to achieve clear boundaries between work and rest and when this happens burn out is inevitable.  When we are burned out, we cannot effectively do the work God has called us to do.  We begin a cycle of always being on, and not always being effective.  God knows that we need a break from time to time.  He created this day to help us reset, begin again and reflect on the 6 days that went before it.  By observing the sabbath, you are honouring God and worshipping Him.

Even if you don’t get to go to church!!

Are you feeling burned out by the demands of your life and your work?  Then fight to honour God’s rule for us by observing the sabbath.

Does it take you forever to do tasks and you keep working without taking a break thinking it will help?  It might be taking you forever because you haven’t prepared your task with the proper rest.  Jesus was the greatest model for observing the sabbath:  before every big moment in His ministry, He rested prior to starting.

He rested.

The Alpha and Omega.

The Son of God whose Father never sleeps but does take a sabbath rest!

So if observing the Sabbath is something Jesus does, we need to follow His lead in order to have a worshipful life.  A life changed by the cross.

Take time to breathe deeply during a sabbath rest.  Pray, worship, enjoy knowing the Lord and you are promised that you will be blessed.

Have a wonderful Sabbath. See you at our gathering online tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. 🙂

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