When I was a kid, my grandparents—Mama and Papa, as we called them—took a complete day of Sabbath rest.
And, when our family was with them, we did too!
On Saturday, Mama would cook—and boy, would she cook! Then on Sunday, she would just warm up the food. To her, cooking was working on the Sabbath, and she wasn’t going to work on the Sabbath.
But that also meant we had to take naps because it was the Sabbath. And, while I loved times with Mama and Papa, I didn’t like taking naps!
Like many things God gives us, sometimes we take Sabbath and turn it into something more or less or different than He intended. But, friend, Sabbath isn’t about cooking or even taking naps. It’s about choosing to stop, pause, and reposition your heart toward God.
So, how can we do Sabbath in the truest sense and intention of God’s command? In this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, we do a deep dive into what Sabbath is, why you need it, and how to do it. You’ll learn a step-by-step way to create a Sabbath strategy you can put into practice today.
Why Sabbath Matters
- God created Sabbath because we need it. The Hebrew word for Sabbath means “to rest or stop or cease from work,” and its origin goes back to creation. We read that God “rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made” (Genesis 2:2-3). But He didn’t rest because He needed to. Psalm 121 says that our help “comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth,” and He who watches over us “will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Sabbath is about choosing to stop, pause, and reposition our hearts toward God. [Click to Tweet]
God created the Sabbath because we need it. He set the example, and then He set it in stone. God gave the Israelites the fourth of His Ten Commandments, telling them to “remember” the Sabbath day and “keep it holy.” They were to rest from their labors and give the same day of rest to their servants and animals. It wasn’t just physical rest, but a “cease and desist” for all their labor!
- We honor God when we honor Sabbath. The very first time the term Sabbath appears in Scripture is in Exodus 16:23. This verse says it was a holy Sabbath “to” the Lord—for Him, to honor Him. That means, to honor God, we obey Him and cease from work and rest.
When we really understand the intent of Sabbath is to show we value God and honor Him, our motivation changes. We’re more willing to stop and take rest as an act of surrender and worship.
- When we take Sabbath, we rest. Rest is a big plus in our lives. Rest is creative by nature. It creates space, margin, and possibility. When we do a full stop and pause, it can give us greater focus and emotional stability. And, when we rest, we can sleep. We give our bodies and brains a chance to unwind and chill out. Sabbath helps us silence the chatter of insomnia.
In Christ, we live Sabbath rest. Sabbath is not about Sunday per se. What we’re talking about here is the principle of Sabbath. Ultimately, Christ is our Sabbath rest, so He fulfilled that command for us. In Him, we live in Sabbath rest. The Sabbath rules and regulations prescribed in the Mosaic Law pointed to Christ. When Christ came, He became our Sabbath Rest personified. Now, in Christ, we can rest at all times.
How to Create a Sabbath Strategy
- Start with Sabbath sunrise. Begin your day with a brief Sabbath rest before the Lord. Jesus said, “learn of me … and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). As you begin your day, focus on one thing about Jesus. It might be His grace, His forgiveness, or His love. Just pick one quality to meditate on and see how it will help you begin your day in the rest mindset that Christ died to give you.
- Let your senses Sabbath. You experience life through your five senses, and they are always on high alert. Let your senses Sabbath for a moment each day. Here are some practical ways you can do this:
- Experience silence. Drive with no podcast or radio. Turn off the TV in your home. Let your spirit absorb the quiet and rest.
- Let your eyes see beauty that brings rest. Instead of reading your news feed, look out the window at the trees. Let your eyes rest from the striving and stress, and behold beauty so you can be held by rest.
- Touch something soft or soothing. Close your eyes and just let the tactile sensation draw your attention from your work and into wonder.
- Taste something that awakens your sense to rest. This might be hot tea or maybe a tart cherry. But don’t just eat it, taste it. Slow down and experience the rest that brings.
- Inhale a pleasing fragrance. Smell something lovely. Often, just pausing to inhale a fragrance can settle you and even trigger memory or emotions. Maybe it’s essential oils or a flower in your backyard or the fragrance of the freshly cut lawn, or the scent of your clean laundry. Pausing to breathe and smell gives your body another way to take Sabbath.
- Schedule Sabbath. If you aim at nothing, you will hit it. So, choose to schedule a way to Sabbath that works for you. Rick Warren recommends that you divert daily, withdraw weekly, and abandon annually. I wrote a blog post a few years ago that details what this might look like. You can read it here.
- Study Sabbath. The first four chapters of Hebrews are very specific about God’s desire for us to rest. These chapters tell us how God feels when we refuse to rest in Him. It hurts and disappoints Him.
Why would our lack of rest offend God? I believe it’s because failing to rest shows that we don’t trust Him. We work ourselves to the bone because we’re trying to do things under our own power. Rather than just following His impulse and relying on His grace. Let God’s Word teach you about Sabbath, which will motivate you and keep your heart leaning toward it.
- End with sunset Sabbath. At the end of the day, as you close your eyes to rest, do a full stop—a cease and desist from your work and your working mind. Relax your muscles, from your feet to your face, and breathe. Pause and pray. Be still before God in your heart and know He is God, and He’s got you.
Friend, when you take Sabbath, you have to slow down. And, when you work that kind of rhythm into your life, you live Sabbath rest.
So, remember, whatever you face, however you feel, you can do all things through Christ, who gives you strength!
Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- 66 Ways God Loves You
- Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking By Faith, Not By Sight
- Walking By Faith Bible Study