Preparing to go on vacation takes a lot of work. Does anyone else have to finish all the laundry, clean the house, and be completely caught up at work before enjoying a break? This year, my family vacation also came two days after a huge deadline at work. By the time I locked the front door and turned towards the car, mental and physical exhaustion overwhelmed me.
Once we arrived at our destination, I could have cried with relief. The months of planning and weeks of hectic last-minute preparation were worth it. After a few days of complete rest, I felt recharged and ready to go.
Although this pattern of planning before rest is common to holidays and vacations, it wasn’t until recently I applied it to honoring the Sabbath. God doesn’t want me to experience this relief from work once or twice a year. His plan is for me to experience it every seven days.
Every week I’m faced with the opportunity to rest. Actually it’s more than an opportunity. It’s a commandment from the Lord. But instead of planning for it to happen, I usually slip into a day of work. For some reason, I expect a day of rest to happen with no effort. But it never does. I need to rethink how I approach God’s commandment to rest. It requires intention for it to happen, or I’ll just use it as a catch-up day.
For years God has been gently convicting me of dishonoring His day. Although I know it’s one of the Ten Commandments, I’ve prioritized work over obedience too many times. I’ve even tried to redefine work and call it rest, as if that could fool God. The truth is, I’ve created a seven-day workweek, and neglected to plan for rest. It’s easy to find excuses not to rest: I’m a mom of five children, I enjoy ironing in front of the television, or it’s just a few work-related e-mails. Those excuses sound weak to my ears when weighed against God’s request to obey Him in something that’s pleasurable and for my own good.
I know that the Sabbath is a gift from a loving heavenly Father to His children. It is a day to breathe a sigh of relief, and rest from our labors. It is a day to soak in the companionship of those we love. It’s a day to stop creating and just receive what God wants to give me. My spirit, mind and body long for rest. To reject this healing gift hurts me and those I love. It also sets me in direct disobedience to God.
Given my tendency towards work, it will take planning for a day of Sabbath rest to happen. It will take me spreading housework throughout the week, finishing the laundry a day early and preparing meals in advance. It will take a weekly plan. But when I make the Sabbath a priority, I’m obeying one of the Ten Commandments and teaching my children to do the same.
And when my thirsty soul tastes of the refreshment of rest, I realize afresh why God asked me to honor His day.