Given the choice, would you rather be free, or a slave?
That might feel like a goofy question, right? But it is so easy for us to choose slavery, unwittingly. We’re captive to the busyness and frantic pace that marks our days. We’re slaves to our schedule.
God invites us to remember that we have a choice, and we can choose freedom:
12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deut. 5:12-15)
Every week, I think about Sabbath, because I observe the Sabbath. I slow down, set aside my work. I get free from hurry, free from busy, free from the “have-to’s” of my life. I unplug, sit by the fire, go for a walk, talk with friends, read. I refrain from what’s necessary and do what brings life, as Mark Buchanan would say.
It’s pretty great, really.
I’ve written a lot about it on this blog, and elsewhere, like here, and here. This week, I’ve been thinking about it more deeply, as I begin the research for a new project, and also because one of my lovely readers emailed to tell me she’d had an opportunity to preach on Laity Sunday last weekend at her church, and had shared some ideas she’d read in my book Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity. I love that she was encouraged, and that she took the time to write to me, but even more I love that her church gave her a platform to share that encouragement with the congregation, to tell her story.
As a spiritual practice, Sabbath is often misunderstood. It seems restrictive, yet those who practice it know that it actually brings freedom. It frees our souls from the slavery of busyness, the tyranny of the urgent.
Do you take a Sabbath? A day to not work, to rest, to pause? Leave a comment below telling us about your practice, or your response to that idea. If you’ve got a story, share it. If you’ve got a question, fire away.
Here’s what I write about it in Rest:
It seems odd that God would need to command rest. Wouldn’t people want to take a break after working? In our culture, we tend to be too hurried, too busy, because we are deeply committed to a belief in our own importance. We’re afraid of taking a break, perhaps because we are afraid the world might stop spinning if we get off the treadmill.
But the children of Israel may have had the opposite problem. They didn’t know how valued they were. They didn’t think they were allowed the luxury of a day off, because for years in captivity, they hadn’t been allowed that. That’s why Sabbath was such a gift, but also a command….
God knows that about us: that we tend to think too highly of ourselves, that we tend to thin our value lies in our accomplishments. That we believe way to much in our indispensability. Or we wrestle with a different demon altogether. We believe too firmly in our unworthiness. We think our hard work keeps God’s love flowing our way. We think we are not good enough, that we have to keep earning the approval of someone—God, our parents, our peers. Either way, we end of serving the false god of our own competence.
But to worship there is to cage our own souls, rejecting the freedom Jesus purchased for us. …We put ourselves back into the slavery Sabbath intends to free us from.
Talk about it: (leave a comment below)
What does Sabbath look like for you?
What gets in the way of observing Sabbath?
Which is more likely to enslave you: belief in your own indispensability, or fear of your own unworthiness?
Do you ever find yourself believing that your hard work keeps God’s love and approval flowing? Even if you say you know that’s not true, what do your actions say about it?
What fears or beliefs do you feel “enslaved” by? What is one step you want to take toward freedom?