As a new-ish mother, keeping some kind of sabbath has been a rhythm I’ve had to figure out in a new way.
I mean, let’s face it, moms…we don’t really get a “day off” from caring for our children. To be honest, I wouldn’t want a day off from this important responsibility.
Even still, I think we can go to Scripture and the Holy Spirit to enter His rest in the form of taking a sabbath. Let’s take a look at how we might go about this: as parents, full-time employees, students, or whoever you might be.
Firstly, we approach the words of Jesus when He says ““The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). What comfort we can take from this! The sabbath was made to be a joy for us; it’s a gift God gave to us.
What is this gift?
- A reminder that we are not God; we need to rest
- A reminder that rest is GOOD; while God didn’t need to rest, He chose to after creating the entire world. The Son of God did, too, in His time on Earth.
- Rest is found in God, ALWAYS. In Christ, we can always enter the rest of God, even while we are busy working.
It’s important to note that, if we are in Christ, we are not judged by whether or not we keep the Sabbath day (Colossians 2:16). Instead, we follow the “Lord of the Sabbath”, Jesus, and we find our rest in Him ALWAYS. We never rest from worshipping and praising Him and communing with Him. The Sabbath isn’t a legalistic “day off”. Because Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, because He is the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith, He IS the rest that is the sabbath, and so the most important aspect of our sabbath-ing is that it is in Him and with Him.
So, sabbath in your life doesn’t need to be one day a week, but it sure can be.
For me, in this season, Fridays are a day in which I rest from extra chores, from volunteer work, and from tasks like grocery shopping, meal planning, etc. I spend more intentional time on the floor with my baby and extra time enjoying the company of my husband. I nap if I can. Of course I don’t completely neglect the house and still need to do things like cook and wipe down the floors and wash the dishes, but overall I do only what’s needed.
It’s glorious, and it’s all the more glorious because I truly do work hard all throughout the week, so the rest feels needed.
And here’s what’s different now that I am in Christ: if I choose to get some laundry done on a Friday, or get some freelance work done, or whatever other kind of work, there is nothing wrong with that. Even more importantly, I should not avoid helping the sick and needy or caring for my family and friends just because I observe a sort of sabbath on Fridays.
Jesus modelled this for us:
Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.
It is lawful to DO GOOD on the Sabbath. We can rest in the freedom Christ offers us here. “All things are lawful for me; but not all things are beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23). There’s no more rules, no more law to the letter in Christ. However, when we have the Holy Spirit of God, of the God who created and fulfilled the law, there are things that we see to be not beneficial, not edifying, and they become things we don’t want to do. When it comes to sabbath rest, we seek God for it, and He shows us what it looks like in our own lives.
For me, something I’ve really learned this year about rest and sabbath is that it doesn’t have to look like watching a TV show or some other activity that involves zoning out. True rest is found in Jesus, and He is what I really WANT. I feel much more rested and refreshed by spending time with Him than I would watching TV.
Again, that doesn’t mean that watching TV (or playing video games, or whatever you might do) is necessarily BAD or wrong. And perhaps these things do fit into your sabbath. Again, the important thing is that we’re seeking Jesus on how to rest well and that we are willing to lay down whatever He might call us to lay down.
Particularly in this season of motherhood, my real “work” each day is taking care of my baby…and God does not call me to stop doing that any day. Feeding, nursing, diapering, napping, and playing with my baby are my responsibilities every day, and they keep my son alive! This reality for us moms only strengthens our understanding of the concept that a) we are set from legalistic rules around the sabbath and that b) Jesus Himself is our true rest. Sabbathing for us needs to look like simply entering His restful presence all of the time, because we don’t ever stop being moms and having those responsibilities, day and night.
Today, my prayer is that you would consider what the discipline and joy and gift of sabbath might look like for you in this season. Maybe right now you don’t intentionally take any rest time, and you’re burning out. Or maybe you’re realizing all your rest time goes to scrolling on your phone, playing video games, or watching TV, and you want to start seeing time with Jesus as the true rest He offers us. Maybe you’re discovering that you should establish a rhythm of intentional sabbath, whether it’s one day a week or even one morning a week, and seeking God on what it might look like. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and help you receive the gift of sabbath as a blessing in your life to ultimately glorify God and serve Him and His people.