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My Struggles with Sabbath

A few months ago, I came this close to calling it quits on everything in my life -- work, ministry, parenting. I wanted a one way ticket to Anywhere But Here. I called a friend and he talked me off the ledge.

I didn’t quit. And I realized while confiding in my friend that I didn’t even really want to quit. What I wanted -- what I needed -- was a break. And not just a sleep-in-late kind of break or a night-without-kids kind of break. I needed a Sabbath.

So I did it. My friend forbade me from doing anything work-related or completing anything on my To-Do List (like cleaning my apartment). I was to rest and spend time with God. Refill and replenish my soul.

It worked wonders.

Taking an entire day to rest and intentionally focus on God calmed my soul and filled my spiritual tank. It was as if I was a completely different person. I felt healthy, at peace, good. Honoring the Sabbath is not only a mandate from God; it is, like all of His commandments and desires for our lives, for our benefit. It breathes new life into us. It sustains us.

Every day we face an onslaught of things that need our attention. Some valid, some unavoidable, others frivolous but enjoyable. It’s relentless. And as a single parent in full-time vocational ministry, I find it extremely challenging to find time for the immediate needs of the day, let alone space to pause, rest, and reflect. However, as a single parent in full-time vocational ministry, it’s absolutely vital that I make time to honor the Sabbath.

There’s a difference between a “day off” and a “Sabbath.” To me, the simplest way of understanding the nuance is that a Sabbath is a day of not only rest, but of worship. Intentionally stopping to point our hearts, minds, and souls with gratefulness to the sovereignty and goodness of God.

It sounds easy, but I find it difficult.

One of the reasons is because I don’t prioritize it. I’m not intentional about putting it on my calendar the same way I schedule meetings, musical rehearsals, or childcare plans. To be honest, it takes up most of my bandwidth just to juggle those three calendar commitments. But how much easier would it be to honor the Sabbath if I made it a non-negotiable event on my calendar?

If I dig deeper, however, another thing holding me back from true Sabbath is my inability to fully surrender my plans to the Lord. More often than not, I worry that if I don’t get things done today, I might not get them done tomorrow. Then I’ll be behind, and then my already long list will be even longer, and this will make me anxious, so shouldn’t I just take care of all my work first and then take a Sabbath?

No.

Stop where you are. Rest. Worship. Give it all to Him. He’s in control. Let Him calm your anxieties and worries. Let Him fill you. And then, get back to your work.

In order to breathe out, we need first to breathe in. If we want to exhale the love of God into the lives of others effectively, we need to set aside time to be filled by His never-waning love.