“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.” Leviticus 23:3
Growing up surrounded by the dense woods and rolling cornfields of Knox County, Illinois, I learned to rest on the seventh day of our family’s week, Sunday.
The morning on this day, of course, was always all about going to church. This meant shining shoes the night before, baths, and ironing clean shirts. We were getting ready for the next day where, after the drive into town, my brothers and I would pour through the crowded church hallways of friends and neighbors to sit in not-so solemn rooms. If we were in the right spot, the sunlight would spill through the stained glass windows and burn into our necks to remind us of what we were missing outside. It was an intense start to the day.
But after church, we rested.
A family meal at noon was often pot roast with mashed potatoes and peas or corn, hot rolls, lettuce salad with mayonnaise dressing. (How did mom get everything the same temperature all at once?) Newspapers, the comics, and, if the weather was right, football in the empty lot next-door followed. Most of us dozed later in the day. My parents read books. My dad smoked his pipe. All of this appeared and had the deep feeling of being predictable, effortless, unintentional and unplanned: on Sundays our house was quiet with the serious business of resting.
I don’t remember ever getting or making a phone call on a Sunday afternoon when I was a boy so many years ago. I miss that rhthym of resting.
In the verse above, the Lord clarifies the idea of the sabbath. This was new: for the first time, a people, no matter where they were living, would rest one day out of seven. Why?
We must believe that when our Heavenly Father established this, six-on, one-off, rhythm, He knew what He was doing. I have to think that He knew we would be a focused people, energetic, purposeful, productive, driven, creative, powerful, and most of all, willing to work hard, a lot. And He must have known that in all our self-centered busyness (and even in our service for others?) we would find it uncomfortably easy to forget…Him. I think He knew that over time, without an intervention, we would start to believe that life, itself, really does come from the toil of our hands, that our plans succeed because we worry through the details, that other people approve of us because we consistently meet their expectations, that the whole sum of our effort works marvelously together to make…life…happen.
It doesn’t. If it did, life on this planet would be grand, indeed. What we see, at best, is a sad monument to a people who are reaching, trying very hard to stick another finger in a quickly breaching dam. Time and our options have run out.
We need the words of Jesus:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
God is teaching me that the rhythm of resting is truly broad and goes beyond one day in seven. He wants me to know Him, to trust Him every day, and in this trusting there is Sabbath rest.
What does your rhythm of rest look like? Where is God asking you to trust Him as a pathway to Sabbath?
SMOOTHSTONE: Our Sabbath rest is found in trusting God every day.