June 13, 2018
Is it Time to Press the Holy Pause Button?
For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day He rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy (Exodus 20:11, NLT).
Friend to Friend
Do you ever feel tempted to skim familiar passages when you read your Bible? That’s what I was about to do as I came upon the passage in Exodus about the Sabbath.
"Yeah, yeah, Lord I know."
But do I know? Do I really know why God intended the Sabbath for our good? Do I really believe that a day of rest is necessary for me, a happy-to-be-busy kind of girl? Am I willing to be stretched into stillness, as an act of surrender to my Sovereign God?
As I swiftly turned the page, I felt a prompting from the Holy Spirit to turn back . . . to slow down . . . and to read line-by-line with a willingness to think differently and respond from a softer heart.
You have six days for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord . . . (Exodus 31:15, NLT)
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:17, NLT)
Holy conviction ushered in eager hope.
I wanted that day of complete rest.
I wanted to be refreshed.
I finished my time with the Lord motivated to make Sunday a true Sabbath for my soul.
This Sunday would be different. No bills to pay. No receipts to enter. No menus to plan. No social media to schedule out. No emails to reply to. No thoughts of work or ministry or responsibilities whatsoever.
Instead I would go to church, rest in the afternoon, read, watercolor, play a game, and maybe go on a walk with my family. While I've made this commitment before, somehow I failed to follow through because it always felt like a rule instead of a gift. Have you felt this way too?
Something shifted in my thinking, however, as I saw the promise of rest and refreshment as more than a “nicety” but rather something good and beneficial, even necessary. Yes, if God accomplished His work in six days and rest on the seventh, it is necessary for us too.
“Getting it all done” might theoretically make us feel good, but in reality, it often leaves us worn down, burned out, and pretty cranky.
So that Sunday became the first of my holy pauses in this season of life, and for the first time I saw the difference come Monday morning. I was refreshed. I was lighter in my spirit. There was more joy and peace in my perspective. I was more focused and productive. But even though I discovered how to gain what my soul craved through Sabbath rest, it hasn’t been easy to keep up the discipline. As each weekend approaches, I have to be strategic in what I work toward wrapping up while also adjusting my expectations for what I need to let go of.
I have to shift from a mindset of Sabbath-keeping as law to Sabbath-resting as a gift.
The gift of letting go.
The gift of being undone.
The gift of never finishing.
The gift of trusting God more.
The gift of seeing His provisions.
Because we never, ever find the finish line.
There will always be more to do.
There will always be something nagging at our souls.
There will always be an expectation greater than what we can meet.
All the “doing” won’t refill our soul compared to the refueling we’ll get from a holy pause.
God laid out for us a beautiful rhythm of six days of work and one day of rest on this journey to eternity. For some of us, our Sabbath will be Sunday, but regardless of the day, a holy pause allows us to experience the presence of God and the promises of His provisions. That is indeed a gift that we get to unwrap as we trust Him to be true to His Word.
Dear Lord, I am so grateful that You’ve created the Sabbath for us to experience the kind of rest and refreshment You know is good for us. You even model it for us! Please forgive us for not yielding our agendas and “to do” lists to the hours You give us in a day or week. Please forgive us for not trusting You with whatever is left undone. Help us Lord to walk in obedience to Your Word and receive the blessings You promise for us as Your beloved children.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
How is God calling you to let go and rest in Him? What do you need to yield to walk according to the convictions rising up in you? How is God wanting to provide you with rest and refreshment, but you're busy making excuses (just like I'm prone to do)?
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Originally published Friday, 13 July 2018.