The Day of Rest
The work doesn’t end. The to-do list doesn’t get shorter. If you are waiting until things slow down before you take a day of rest – things will never slow down. Voids get filled in direct correlation to your need for empty time. Rest must be intentional.
You are designed by the Creator of the Universe to need rest. Those in your household also need rest. During rest you are more than when you are working. You are no longer an automaton programmed to fulfill your duty to society. During rest you become fully alive and fully human. During rest you reconnect with your primal needs for fellowship with God and others. During 6 days you impact the world. One day of the week you become who you were meant to be. And from that you can be more in the next 6 days that you give of yourself to the world.
I’d like to challenge you to “follow the ancient pathways” and revive the ritual of setting apart the seventh day as a day of rest in your home.
I speak from experience. For the first 50 years of my life, I waited for rest to happen. Sundays, my then chosen day of rest, was filled with homestead crisis, volunteer work at church, and then frantic meal preparation and clean up that sucked up the afternoon, until we dreaded Sundays. It seemed like the more we needed to rest the busier and more demanding Sundays became. It’s not as if we were pastors at a church or anything. In fact, Sundays should have been easier to rest on because we were self-employed homesteaders. We chose our own work hours. But it was a war to fight for rest.
For a couple years Robin worked as a janitor at our church to supplement our homestead income. Since he was on the payroll, it meant the whole family was “employed” by the church. On a few Sundays we walked into church and were asked, before we even walked into the hall, to fix an overflowing toilet. I kid you not. Dressed in our best clothes, bent over a toilet with a plunger, spilling filthy water all over our dress clothes, then mopping the soiled floor, we dutifully did the job that could have waited till Monday. That’s what “out of order” signs are for. I almost quit church that day. We stopped wearing good clothes to church after that and Sunday became a work day, like every other day. We died a little inside. Slavery does that to people.
When God reminded the children of Israel that they needed to keep the Sabbath Day, one of the reasons He gave them was that they had been slaves in Egypt and He had brought them out of slavery with his own outstretched arm. The day of rest was a sign to them that they were no longer slaves – they had been redeemed from slavery by God himself. This was their reason to celebrate one day a week as set apart from the others by stopping their busy-ness.
On spring we attended a Messianic synagogue on a Saturday in Spokane. This was for a course assignment that Sarah had for her distance learning course in ethnic cultures. It was definitely more than a Sabbath Days’ journey from our home in BC. But at that service, conducted mostly in Hebrew with English subtitles, the light went on. When we got home we started keeping the 7th Day Sabbath. On Sabbath we don’t attend church or religious services. On Sabbath there is no one to ask us to clean the toilets. No stress over meal preparation – everything is made ahead and heated in a crock pot. It’s been one of the most revolutionary things we’ve experienced.
We didn’t become 7th Day Adventists. We didn’t convert to Judaism. We continue to attend church on Sunday and fellowship with other Christians on Sunday. We simply started obeying the 4th commandment to remember the 7th day and keep it set apart. And since making that commitment we’ve gained so much more than we’ve given up.
Hindrances to keeping a day of rest
There were hindrances to me in keeping a day of rest. First how do you manage to have food prepared in advance? I tried making a roast so that there would be left overs, but my family would eat second helpings and there wouldn’t be enough leftovers for another meal. I’d get caught up in running an errand that had to be done on Saturday because that was the only day available. This still happens, especially with only one car in our household. On those days we remember the words of Messiah, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Keeping a day of rest is a learning experience, especially for those of us without a mom to teach us how it’s done.
Let me share some of the tips I’ve found that have helped us keep a day set apart for rest. While we are still learning how to make it work, perhaps the bit we’ve learned so far will help you in your journey, too. Maybe you have more tips you can add in the comments.
4 tips for Keeping a Day of Rest
Really if you don’t plan on Thursday and Friday to rest on the Saturday, it ain’t gonna happen. Life has a way of filling the void. Start by saying, “No” to outside activities – men’s breakfasts, craft fairs, farmer’s markets, mom’s morning out, grocery shopping.
Clean up the house
and declutter ahead of time, so you aren’t tempted to straighten things up. It’s amazing how the cobwebs magically appear out of nowhere when you are sitting on the couch in a beam of sunlight reading a book. Resist the urge to jump up and deal with them. You need this rest time just as much as your family.
The seventh day Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday night and goes until sunset Saturday night. Have a special meal to start, with candles, and special food like bread and grape juice, to signal the beginning of your set apart time. This is a sensory signal to your body to relax. I really look forward to this time. You can physically feel the peace descend around your mealtime as you consciously set this time apart.
Do your special meal preparation and baking on Thursday or Friday
Make the meals and the bread for your rest on the day before so that you won’t have to cook. I put the ingredients for our Saturday lunch in the crock pot liner and put it in the fridge so that on Saturday morning I only need to take it out, set it in the crock pot shell, and plug it in. On Friday morning, I bake 2 loaves of bread, which is plenty for my family to last 3 days, through to Monday. Some families may need more bread to get through.
Avoid running out on errands. One errand becomes many errands and before you know it the day is gone. There are times when I must run an errand on Saturday. When that happens we do the errand and remind ourselves that “the Sabbath is made for man.”
Avoid saying “yes” to activities
that will take you away from home on your day of rest – even religious activities. Give yourself permission to rest by saying, “No.”
Incorporate meaningful ritual into the day – reading the Bible together as a family, lighting candles during the meal, for instance. We eat the bread and grape juice at the beginning of our Friday night meal as a family communion observance, to remember the death of the Messiah until He comes. Your ritual may look different – find something that speaks of rest and fellowship to you. The ritual signals to your mind to relax and be at peace.
Consider keeping your day of rest from sunset to sunset
A day of rest that begins in the morning, commits you to ignoring things that you think really should be done. It sets up conflict in your mind. But a rest from sunset to sunset means that any tasks that can’t wait can be done before dark on Friday or after dark the next day. And you are able to put them out of your mind without worry. This works really well for homesteaders and makes keeping a day of rest do-able. Any animal husbandry tasks that are essential can be done after sunset on Saturday or before sunset on Friday. You never go a full day without attending to crucial needs. (We do feed and water our animals on Sabbath, but we try to leave things like hoof trimming or shots to other days.)
Know that when you decide to obey the commandment there will be war
The world seems to conspire to keep you from your appointment with rest. Your friends won’t understand your commitment to keeping a day of rest. Your church will think you’ve become lazy, flipped out into legalism, or fallen away into a cult. Don’t let it worry you what other people think. The Sabbath rest is a gift from our Creator. Some choose not to open the gift. Those who do open it find an amazing treasure that opens up other mysteries in the Word of God to their eyes, as well.
Do you have an experience in keeping a day of rest? Leave a comment as an encouragement to others who are exploring this path on their journey.