Rest and Sabbath-Keeping

Even with all the challenges (and heat) that August brings, it happens to be one of my favorite times of the year. I think it’s because I appreciate the rhythm that it brings to my life. If you don’t already know, I’ve been the perpetual student: pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school, undergrad (5 years), TWO master’s degrees and now a Ph.D. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Summer, but I also find that I need an annual meta-structure in my life that only school provides. You who are parents probably appreciate that structure too!

Also, aren’t Summers supposed to be restful? It seems that when I get to August I’m as tired as I was in May. In the past few years I’ve forced myself to pause before I launch back into school mode and assess my patterns and habits. It is also in August that I return annually to one of my favorite passages on the importance of balancing life and work with rest/Sabbath-keeping. The following passage is from Mark Labberton’s transformational book titled “The Dangerous Act of Worship.”

We underestimate the daily and
weekly discipline of worship that
is required to recalibrate the
context that shapes our lives.
What we need is a liberated
Sabbath-keeping practice. This
means that daily, certainly
weekly, we are to unhook from
both the subtle and blatant ways
we let the rhythms of life and
culture, instead of God, tell us who we are and how
we are to live. The goal is to find liberation from the
lies or half-truths of our culture and the freedom to
give and receive love, mercy and justice.
Sabbath-keeping has to be a key part of this
liberation.

Labberton is speaking here about Sunday morning worship and so much more. He’s reminding us that soccer games and television shows, business conferences and board meetings and even the most well-intentioned vacation time can lead us further away from living our lives in a way that is pleasing to God. Scripture reminds us that God created the world in six days and then he rested! Living our lives in this pattern where we say yes to God’s rhythms is essential and will be an example noticed by the world around us.

I’m not one to guilt people into regular church attendance, nor am I one who thinks that God is only encountered within the walls of Trinity Baptist Church. At the same time, I think we need the words of Mark Labberton to remind us that Sunday worship and Bible Study are there not only for God’s glory, but for our benefit. I want to encourage you to take notice of how Sabbath-keeping and regular worship shape your life this fall.