“Who has time for Sabbath, I don’t even take all my vacation time.” As a faith-based counselor at Care for Pastors, I hear this far too often. In full disclosure, I have not been great at practicing Sabbath in 45 years of ministry. But, I am learning what I have missed by not practicing what I now believe is a gift extended from my Heavenly Father.
In the ten commandments, there is more verbiage given to keeping the Sabbath than any of the other commandments. Why? The Israelites had just been delivered from years of slavery in Egypt, where they were required to work 7 days a week with no time for a day of rest. God commanding them to take a day of rest was a totally foreign concept, after all those years of required slave labor. This 4th commandment was actually a gift of grace to people who were totally deprived of the concept of rest. I believe that when this 4th commandment is adhered to, the remaining nine are much easier to keep.
As a reminder, Jesus had a lot to say about the Sabbath. When the Pharisees criticized His disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath, He reminded them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Sabbath was made for us. God gave it to us as a gift; a “get to” NOT a “have to.”
While on earth, Jesus only had a limited amount of time to accomplish His goals. He was constantly surrounded by hungry people, people who needed to be healed, sermons to share, disciples to be discipled. But in all four of the gospels we have the record of Jesus leaving hungry people, people needing healing, sermons unshared, and disciples that needed to be discipled and going to a mountain or a garden to pray and rest. The humanity of Jesus needed rest and replenishment. Jesus sets the example for all of us.
One of the tools the enemy uses to discourage and defeat us is, “There is never enough time to get everything done.” But the harsh reality is one day we will die without getting everything done!
“Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” – Dallas Willard
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
The very nature of ministry is it’s difficult dealing with broken people in our broken condition, is hard. Jesus says when we are weary and burdened, rest, don’t try to do more! Rest for our body and soul, will result in ministry taking on a totally different perspective. It goes from “I have to” to “I get to.” “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Give Sabbath a try. What do you have to lose, except carrying a burden you were never intended to carry.