He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. – Psalm 23:2-3 (NIV)
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” – Exodus 20:8
It’s funny how songs from childhood stay with us throughout life. I remember my mother singing along with the songs that blasted from the radio that sat atop the refrigerator as she went about her housework. Singing made the work seem easier, the time go by faster, and lightened the load of responsibility, care, and worry.
I especially remember one song that even I liked to sing: “Oh, you can kiss me on a Monday, a Monday, a Monday is very, very good. Or you can kiss me on a Tuesday, a Tuesday, a Tuesday, in fact, I wish you would. Or you can kiss me on a Wednesday, a Thursday, a Friday, a Saturday is best, but never, ever on a Sunday, a Sunday, a Sunday, ’cause that’s my day of rest” (“My Day of Rest”).
Sixty years later I still find myself quietly singing the lyrics, especially when Sunday has become anything but a day of rest. When I was a child, Sundays meant reading the comics (we called them the “funnies”), going to church, having a sit-down dinner of roast beef with the entire family, and relaxing the rest of the day.
I remember when I first became aware of the increased pace of life on Sundays. We live in the country, and for years we attended a small country church near our home and rarely had a reason to come to town on a Sunday. One Sunday we came to town to bring my daughter’s friend, who’d spent the weekend with us, home. Town was as busy – even busier, I thought – than a weekday. Cars were buzzing down the main street, blocking intersections, and jumping red lights, all in a hurry to get where they were going. Parking lots were full.
“Whatever happened to Sunday being a day of rest?” I wondered.
Modern technology has given us devices that save time and labor, but what do we do with the time we save? Cram more activities into already over-crowded schedules. Stress has become a major health issue.
After putting in a 40-plus-hour work week, it’s tempting to use Sunday as an extra Saturday. I find I’m living my life like I drive: hurried, tail-gating slow pokes, jumping red lights, slowing down, and cruising through stop signs. I have to remind myself that “stop” means exactly that. It doesn’t mean “merge” or “yield.”
And that’s what Sabbath literally means. Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to stop or to rest from work.” God Himself set the example: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:2–3).
Holy in this case means “set apart for special use.” No other day was blessed, only Sunday. No other day was set apart, only Sunday. Sunday was not meant to be a burden, but a time of laying aside the burdens and focusing on rest and worship. Remember what Jesus said: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
Sunday is a gift – a gift of time. Time for restoration, time for re-energizing rundown, worn-out bodies and spirits, time to focus on all that God is and does, and worship Him. And true worship, like singing, will make work the rest of the week seem easier and the burdens we carry lighter.
Help me, Lord, to put away the ever-present do-list on Sunday and take that nap, because I know I will feel better the rest of the week. Amen.
Read and meditate on Exodus 20:8–11; Psalm 119:49–64
(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.