To be unhurried and relaxed in Jesus – not striving and struggling spiritually – you need to be taking a weekly Sabbath. Sabbath keeping is foundational and basic to our spiritual health and vitality. It is the foundation upon which we build our lives, establish our convictions, and is the core of our lifestyle. I have found that taking from 6:00p one evening through to 6:00p the next evening is best – because then you have an evening to unwind and a night to sleep and then you have 10 hours (assuming you are up at 6:00a) to enjoy a Sabbath awake and unstressed.
There are four basic foundational qualities of biblical Sabbath keeping. These help us to distinguish between a “day off” and a biblical Sabbath.
First: You must stop. Sabbath is first and foremost a day of stopping. “To stop” is built into the literal meaning of the Hebrew word for Sabbath. So, you need to stop your world and get off. You need to stop working – doing those things you do to make a living AND doing those things that keep you busy on your day off. Remember that the Sabbath is not just a ‘day off’ and time to catch up around the house, the yards, or do your errands and laundry. You need to stop all work and regular activities and routines.
Second: You must rest. Once we stop, Sabbath calls us to rest. What do we do to replace all we are not stopping during our Sabbath time? The answer is simply whatever delights and replenishes you. Do things that “charge” you – spirit, soul and body. This can include napping, going to the gym, going for a long walk, reading a novel, watching a good movie, and going out for dinner. It is helpful to avoid turning on your cell phone, table, and laptop.
Third: Delight! The Sabbath is a time to do something that you delight doing. There is too little play or delight in most of our lives. Sabbath revolves around delighting in what we have been given. God delighted over His creation on the first Sabbath (Genesis 1:31). We are to do the same. We are to take the time to see the beauty of a tree, a leaf, a flower. We are to pay attention to the things that give us delight. This can include reading, hiking, nature, the beach, music, traveling and spending time with extended family members.
Fourth: Contemplate! Sabbath is a time to focus, particularly on seeing the invisible (God) in the visible and the physical. In other words, slow down to acknowledge God in all the creation around you – from nature to food to people to beauty to music. Our short lifespan here on earth is put into perspective as we look forward to our eternal Sabbath rest when God’s Kingdom will finally come.
Learning to practice Sabbath in today’s world is a spiritual discipline that we must work at. It is not optional – it is a biblical commandment that we neglect to our own detriment. It is the anchor of life when we slow down to be with Jesus, ourself, and others.