Why do we take vacations? Vacations are approached with a variety of motivations and experienced through a complex combination of emotions. Some vacation to pacify family. Some vacation to indulge. Some vacation simply to use that time they earned, they deserve. I’ve seen people who are annoyed by how vacation interferes with their successful careers. There are others who dread vacation with all the drama that often comes when forced to be close to those we’ve come to distance ourselves from. Some have manic responses, desperately needing rest, but feeling guilty for having access to a concept that a small percentage of the world has access to.
I attended a conference that focused on the behind-the-scenes people of the normal, weekly church service. One of the sessions I attended was called “I Can’t Keep The Sabbath, Too Busy Working It.” I would like to share some of the things I learned from this session as well as a few of my own insights.
In Mark 2, Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” At first glance, this appears to be a gracious and merciful act from God, realizing that we have limitations and weaknesses. There actually is some truth to this. God designed us in a way that needs regular rest, refueling, reflection, and rejoicing. (Didn’t even intend to alliterate, but that worked!) However, something interesting preceded this idea. Something that set the more fundamental purpose for Sabbath into motion.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:1-3)
Now, this begs the question for me, if the Sabbath is for man and the Sabbath is for rest, what kind of rest is this? I mean, it’s easy to make a case for our limitedness, our fatigue and our physical breakdown if we ignore these verses. But, does anyone want to make this same case for God? Then, what kind of rest did God take?
I want to suggest that there is a different kind of resting. I am more and more convinced that God is a God of joy and pleasure. That God loves to witness the beauty of His creation in action and is deeply pleased when we find joy in His world and His workings. On the seventh day God was not worn out. Instead, God wanted to stop all the busyness and just look at the fruit of His work, bask in its beauty, soak in the pleasure that flows through all the functions of His creation. He just enjoyed it all!
I read an article where the author compared God to an excited toddler who tirelessly says, “Look at this! Look at this! I made that!” This example was not intended to be irreverent, but innocent. That God could step back, take a break and say, “Wow, that is something else! I just want to watch everything in motion for awhile. Will you look at it with me? Isn’t beautiful? Isn’t it awesome?!”
When you find yourself taking a vacation, do it in a way that creates Sabbath rest. That is, don’t merely set aside time to focus on God, but make it a priority to look for God, His creativity, His beauty, His goodness, His truth in every aspect of your vacation. See Him in the relationships, the creativity of those He created in His image, the diverse aesthetic of nature, and so on. Observe and meditate, but don’t just do this, dig into what God has given, what God has made, and thoroughly enjoy it! And yes, thank God for it all. Thank God repeatedly!
There are principles of Sabbath rest that apply to a weekly routine as well, but I am focusing more on an annual routine that we call the vacation. I will list the suggestions that were given at the conference I attended. I think they apply to both weekly as well as larger approaches to Sabbath Rest.
- Cease doing what is “necessary” (it’s NOT!)
- To view yourself as the exception to the need for rest, that we should stay in a state of constructive busyness and/or service, is not only disobedient but prideful and naive.
- Embrace what gives Life
- Pursue Joy (Delight)
- Focus on God with Gratitude (Worship)
- Listen to your life (Reflect)
- Have FUN! (Play)
Categories: Worship in Community