What it means to sabbath
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord. (Exodus 20:8-10)
Most of the time I forget Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays. It's usually when I most crave some deep fried goodness served quickly and with a smile without me ever having to leave my truck. Because I'm an American, that's why.
Here is what Chick-Fil-A's website says about their Sunday practice:
"Our founder, Truett Cathy, made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose - a practice we uphold today."
As much as I mourn Chick-Fil-A's observance of the Sabbath when I want to eat there, it's pretty impressive. Actually that is the wrong word. It isn't impressive, it is trusting. To send your employees home when it would be possible to have people lined up to ping your register on the basis of providing space for rest and worship is an act of trust.
I am terrible at observing the Sabbath day. Even if I am still in my body, my mind races about this and that. I find it very hard to get still in my spirit. But I am working on it.
Here is what is means to keep the Sabbath: rest, trust, worship.
Sabbath is rest. When God created, he worked six days and then rested. Given that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), I doubt he was tired. I get the sense that he rested because he wanted to, and because it gave him an opportunity to take in all he had made. We need to rest on the Sabbath, to let our minds and bodies recover from our work — and as we rest we get to observe all that God has done and is doing in our lives. We recall to mind that because of Jesus' death on the cross and glorious resurrection, it is finished.
Sabbath is trust. Being still requires trust, doesn't it? We have to know God is the one who provides for us and that our efforts are only delegated from him. Our work is a gift, and God will do what God wants to do regardless of our efforts. It takes trust to stop our striving for a day, and that is the point.
Sabbath is worship. Scripture says we "Sabbath to the Lord". We do not merely stop doing what we call work, as if Sabbath were merely the absence of labor. Sabbath is a reorienting, an act of worship and devotion to God which starts with stopping. We turn toward the Lord with our hearts and minds, remembering who he is and delighting in him.
Sabbath is the act of letting God be God in our lives. To be clear, God is God no matter how I think about him. I am not letting him do anything, as if I have any control over God whatsoever. But when I say I need to let God be God, what I am really saying is that I need to set aside my foolish attempts to control my life and recognize the fact that God is in control — that he is the generous provider of all things.
This is what it truly means to Sabbath.
How is your Sabbath? Do you keep it holy? WOULD YOU PRAY THIS PRAYER WITH ME?
God, I confess I have a trust problem. I find it hard to Sabbath to you, but I want to. I want to rest in your grace and sit at your feet. Slow me down, Lord — not only so I can rest but so I can look up and see your glory. In Jesus' name, amen.