Last week Elizabeth and I began reading the book The Sabbath Experiment, by Rob Muthiah (that is an affiliate link and you can pick up the Kindle Edition for $3.99 currently). We’ve been practicing Sabbath for a few years now, but began to feel like we needed to revisit the purpose of Sabbath, and just as important, how to practice it in a way that is honouring to God, and life-giving to us.
So I thought I take some time here over the next few weeks and share some of what we are learning and experiencing in and around Sabbath. I’ll also write a bit about areas of struggle for me in this area for example, my desire to “do Sabbath the correct way.” I’d love to hear your thoughts as we go through it.
Sabbathing from Scratch
I figured a good place to start was with a bit of background. Neither Liz nor I grew up in homes that practiced Sabbath. That meant that our kids also grew up in a home with two parents who both had a level of drivenness in them, and also didn’t practice Sabbath.
Early on in our marriage, I struggled with the fact that Sabbath seemed to be one commandment that it was okay to ignore (well, I guess the coveting thing wasn’t a big deal for a lot of people either). Since I was a minister, Sunday was a work day. And since I wasn’t leading a church early on, that also meant that Liz and I would offer drive several hours on a Sunday to a church where we would minister, and then drive back home.
I was also working Monday through Saturday at a grocery store, so there was (at least I thought) no way I could practice Sabbath. But since nobody I knew seemed to be doing it, I figured I was okay for now.
But the thing is, I didn’t even know what it would have meant to practice Sabbath. The only image I had of Sabbath would have been that one episode from Little House on the Prairie, where everyone sat in chairs, dressed in their Sunday finest, and bored out of their minds.
It was around 2007 where I first decided to Sabbath. I’d begun to have a sense that God was leading me to begin taking Sabbath seriously. So I set a day when I was going to take a Sabbath…Which for me meant “not doing any work.” I picked a day when Liz was working and the kids were at school, slept in and watched a bunch of videos that I’d rented the previous day. By the end of the day I felt like I’d spent the whole day eating nothing but junk food.
I left that first attempt seriously wondering what the purpose of that was. If Sabbath is so amazing, why do I feel worse afterwards?
Sabbath Learning Lesson #1: Sabbath ≠ A Day Off
One of the first things I needed to learn about Sabbath was that a Sabbath was not simply a day off from work. (There’s a lot in that statement, and perhaps we’ll get to it in a later post.) But I had a long way to go before I figured out what that meant.
My first attempt at Sabbath was a failure. Well, at least that was how I looked at it at the time. The truth is it launched Liz and me into a journey that has radically impacted our lives, our family and our marriage.