About a year ago, I started having my Sabbath on Mondays. The great thing about having it on Mondays was it became a real Sabbath. Before, when it was on Sundays, it wasn’t a day of rest. Because of my work as a pastor, Sundays were always a work day of some sort. Yes, I could rest Sunday afternoons, sometimes, but the Sabbath is suppose to be about an entire day of rest.
You would think this would be an easy principle/law for Christians to follow, but it isn’t. I’m surprised by how many people in the church think taking a Sabbath isn’t a reality for today. I find this odd. Even when I made the switch to Mondays, one individual (who has been a Christian for a long time) asked me if it was really necessary to have a day off during the week. Yes, yes it is. Just because you choose not to take a Sabbath, doesn’t mean I should abide by your faulty thinking. Sunday is a work day for me. If I didn’t take Monday off, there wouldn’t be a day off from work.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of pressure on people working at churches not to take a Sabbath. When I made the switch to Mondays, I realized quickly how militant I would have to be in protecting the day. Since a number of people think a Sabbath isn’t a reality for today, they think their wants, needs and demands should be met by you. They try and make their crisis your crisis. Hardly.
There will always be needs and demands to be met. There will always be a crisis to address. Are you going to let them dictate your daily life? I don’t want people thinking they can infringe upon me at any point and expect me to respond.
What I’ve started to do is cut myself off from people on my Sabbath. I don’t respond to calls, texts, messages, emails and more. I don’t let opportunities arise for me to be taken off course, like with social media. If it’s an emergency, it’ll be made known to me.
More than that, Sabbath is a day to not work. (Defining “work” by world’s standards.) My wife and I do our best to not do any work around the house. Granted, there are limitations to this since we are parents of three young boys, but we limit what we do. We hear of others using their Sabbaths to do work around the house, school work, or something else. We are intending to not do any of that. We want it to be a day of rest and reflection, not a day of additional work.
Taking this approach means leaving little margin during the work for house work, errands, or personal projects. That’s okay, though. Definitely, some things take a hit. I enjoy writing, but I’m trying to not blog on Sabbath anymore. Maybe I don’t write as much as I use to, but that’s okay. If I need to write, and it is a priority, I’ll make adjustments elsewhere in my schedule.
It’s nice to not be harried. How is that possible if I’m taking one day a week to do nothing? I’m mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually recharging on my Sabbath.
I make sure to have some extended time with God, whether reading the Bible or praying, on my Sabbath. It’s a day to reflect. It’s not just a day to “not work”, like the approach of the Pharisees. It’s a day of purpose.
Establishing a Sabbath pattern has taken a long time, but what a pay off for my family and me. I am getting more out of the Sabbath than I ever have.
Is the Sabbath still relevant? -Ray Ortlund (The Gospel Coalition)