It’s July, the mid-point of summer vacation. The kids and I have enjoyed it, but I’m sure that sometime in August the boredom and bickering will set in. It is time for me to organize for those nourishing activities that I always say we would do “if we had the time”.
Other children are on a year round school schedule and started back last week. Their summer may be short but they are looking forward to vacations in September. Those who choose a year-round school say they love it because the kids get just enough of a summer break to refresh, plus regular 2 week breaks throughout the year for rest and renewal.
Adults seem to enjoy a break even more than the children. How many Facebook posts proclaim “TGIF” or some variation thereof?
We know that our bodies need rest. Rest helps us heal. Young bodies only grow during sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, weight gain, and depression. And our hobbies help us tune in to our spirits, our true selves. Rest is serious business.
God knows this. At Mount Sinai, when the Jewish people listened to God about the most essential things to help them live with God and each other, God gave them the Sabbath. In fact, it’s Commandment number four: “…for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” It’s right there…along with there is one God, do not steal, do not kill, etc. But why?
Did God really need to rest? What does this mean? Why is Sabbath such a huge part of the Old Testament? And does the answer mean to us today in a demanding, 24/7, instant gratification, non-agricultural society?
If we look back to Genesis 1, we read an account of the creation that is ordered and poetic. At the end of each day, God sees that his creation is good. And at the end of the sixth day, he beheld everything and it was “very good”. It would seem that our labor is not complete until we have taken the time to step back to enjoy the fruits of it.
But I think it is also for our own discipline. Perhaps God gave us the Sabbath, because he knew our propensity to keep working, to fill every spare moment. The Sabbath reminds us that it is not our work that makes the world turn in the heavens. We are collaborators, but we are not the Creator.
God even gives the fields a Sabbath by proclaiming that the seventh year the soil should lie fallow. If even the soil that provides food for us to eat needs a Sabbath, how much more does “Adam” (mankind) formed from “adamah” (earth or clay) need a Sabbath time?
Although we may not understand how to honor the Sabbath, we hear its importance not only in scripture, but in our own souls and bodies, yearning for a break. I am still trying to figure out what Sabbath means today. TGIF, indeed…Thank God It’s Friday, and for every day.
How do you understand the Sabbath? Do you wish you could make Sabbath a more regular part of your life? Is there something you do or don’t do that is meaningful to you or your child?