Sunday is traditionally thought of as the Sabbath day of rest, in UK church life at least. In the busyness of church leadership and family life, we found that we needed a different day to rest if we were to thrive and not just survive each week. We decided to set aside Saturday as a family day. A day where we could truly relax, not worry about having to be up and dressed or anywhere by any particular time.
What God says works! When we put aside a day to rest, Jesus gives us exactly that, rest! That shouldn’t really be a surprise. He created us and knows the best plans for us. So why do we often struggle to set aside a day of rest?
I think the reason is fear. Fear of missing out, what if someone needs me? I haven’t got time! I need to do this, it just can’t wait. When in fact the reverse is true. When I truly take time out to rest, I am far more productive and ready to work again. And having made it a regular practice in our lives, we really notice the difference in a week where we give up even part of our family day for “work”. Even if it’s to attend something encouraging and inspiring like church planting training!
Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Jesus wants to give us rest. The Sabbath is God’s gift to us for that purpose. In Mark 2 v27 Jesus said that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
So how is the Sabbath made for us? What does it meant to rest? It doesn’t mean a day of doing nothing. Jesus walked with his disciples, healed people and ate from the fields on the Sabbath. All of which was frowned upon by the religious leaders of the time.
It does mean taking time out by ourselves or with those who energise us to rest from our day-to-day work and enjoy time with God. Rest will look different for each of us. It might mean marvelling at God’s creation on the mountain top, squirreling away with a great book or going out for coffee and ice cream with friends. To name just three of my personal favourites!
We have found that prioritising and protecting rest is crucial. If we do occasionally sacrifice part of our family day then we need to take another time out in the week or risk burn out. We want to finish the marathon that God has called us to, not to sprint ahead in our own strength. And interestingly, our chosen Sabbath day of Saturday has new meaning since moving to Greece. The word for Saturday in Greek is Σαββατο! Sound familiar?
In 1 John 5v3, Jesus promised that his commands are not burdensome. When we embrace the commandment to keep the Sabbath by setting aside a day each week to enjoy rest, it brings us freedom and life in all its fullness. So, for us, Saturday means relaxed family time starting with pancakes in our PJs and we all love it!