I’m reading a book called The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel who was a practicing Jew wrote the book in 1951. He has a unique take on what it means to weekly break away from our work and practice the commandment of keeping the Sabbath Holy. There is perhaps nothing more frustrating for me than trying to rest. Stopping is hard when you are moving fast.
It is fascinating to me that part of God’s rhythm is this holy day of rest. One of the things that Heschel mentions;
“ Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for enhancing his efficiency to work…The Sabbath is not for the sake of the week days, the week days are for the sake of the Sabbath.” (p. 14)
Those two sentences are paradigm shifting for me. There may not be a more subversive act of allegiance to Christ in our culture then keeping Sabbath. We have allowed ourselves to believe that we are in fact “beasts of burden” relentlessly needing to answer texts, emails, deadlines, the next thing then the next thing and we almost celebrate success as the one with the biggest burden wins. We worship work.
Sabbath confronts our understanding of ourselves and our work through the lens of how we treat time. Time is given to us to call our attention to God. For six days we work then we rest. The Sabbath is there at the end of our week reminding us whose we are and whose world we are living in.
It is so tough to do. Turn off your phone for a day and find out what I mean.
Perhaps there is something that Heschel gives us that will help us. In that last line he tells us “the weekdays are made for the Sabbath”. That subtle shift in realizing that I am working so I can take Sabbath. I am moving toward something not looking forward to a break so I can work some more, but moving toward a day where I can celebrate God, his creation and remember who I am in the context of time.
Eugene Peterson and his wife Jan decided that their Sabbath would be a day to pray and to play. I like that. It’s an easier way of looking at it. Instead of a list of things we are not going to do they simplify it. We pray and we play. We talk to God and we recreate.
Jeanne and I are trying to take this seriously. I don’t think which day you do it matters but what we have grown convicted of is the need to anchor our week in something larger than the things we need to do, and the places we need to be. We want our week, our time, to reflect and be centered on Christ. I am hoping that we can learn to do it well. So far it’s tough and rewarding. I don’t think keeping Sabbath was a suggestion though. I think it is an often-disregarded commandment that if we can keep we will know God in a profound way and understand ourselves better too.