“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” –Jesus, as quoted in Mark 2:27 NIV
What image comes to mind when you hear the word “Sabbath”?
A day of rest and relaxation? A day to restore spent batteries? A day to finally schedule those fun activities you don’t have time for the rest of the week? A day to worship God? A nice, long, delicious Sunday afternoon nap? Parking it before the television to watch the game? Or a day to catch up with all the work you couldn’t fit into Monday through Saturday?
For me, Sabbath meant a day of rest, and that, traditionally, was Sunday. And only Sunday.
So when I read Priscilla Shirer’s view of Sabbath in her Bible study Breathe, her words stopped me in my Sabbath tracks: “God always and eternally intended Sabbath to be a lifestyle—an attitude, a perspective, an orientation for living that enables us to govern our lives and steer clear of bondage.” (emphasis mine)
What bondage? I live in a free country. That makes me free, right?
Wrong. There are many things that can enslave me.
Like to-do lists. I cram too many “must-do” items in my daily schedule then feel like a big, fat failure when I don’t accomplish everything on the list.
“How can I get everything done on my to-do list?” I once lamented.
“Put less on your list,” someone answered.
I wish I would’ve heeded that advice when it was given to me. Instead I developed a daily and weekly schedule using an Excel spreadsheet. To which I am a slave.
Oh, I get such pleasure in crossing items off! So much so that I’ll remember something that needs done that isn’t on the list, do it, then add it to the list so I can cross it off. That’s pretty pathetic.
We become dependent on that to which we are addicted. I depended on crossing off items on the list to make me feel good about myself, to feel productive, perhaps to give my life meaning. But all I was doing was spinning my wheels and burning myself out. No wonder I felt overwhelmed, plumbed out, ready to quit the ministries to which God called me.
I needed rest, but, more important, I needed to examine my unrealistic lists and schedules and determine, prayerfully, what to cut and what to keep.
And I needed to set what Priscilla calls Sabbath margins around what remained—establish boundaries so I can have time for Shabbat. Boundaries, remember, aren’t burdens, but gifts.
Shabbat comes from a Hebrew word that means to cease, to stop, to rest—verbs that require decisive action.
God created Sabbath on the seventh day to give the rest of what He created balance. A life without Sabbath, without rest, is out of balance. Sabbath is not an option but an integral part of life. A lifestyle, not a day.
I’m still wrapping my mind around Sabbath being a lifestyle.
As I examine my schedule and place margins around those activities I choose to keep, I’m beginning to understand that Sabbath is not just Sunday but every day of the week.
Where do you need to put Sabbath margins?
Father, I pray for guidance, wisdom, and discernment as I continue to follow Your lead of establishing Sabbath margins in my life so that nothing holds me captive but You. Amen.
NOTE: Next week, we’ll continue the series “Boundaries and Balance” by examining other-people boundaries.
© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.