Think about the last time you met someone new. These somewhat awkward conversations usually start off the same way. We give a few brief details about our life, we talk about the weather, and many times we end up talking about what we “do.” Have you every felt like what you “do” in life defines who you are?
As believers, we are in constant danger of letting the world define us instead of recognizing that our identity comes from God. The creation narrative in Gen. 1:26-27 provides the fundamental text for discovering our identity, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image…’”
The image of God means, by God’s conceptual design, every person belongs to Him.
In Mark 12:13-17, Jesus was asked whether or not it was proper to pay taxes to Caesar. He points out that a coin belongs to the person whose image was stamped upon it. David Cairns, in The Image of God in Man, argues that this story teaches that just as a coin is identified by the authority figure stamped upon it the person whose soul bears God’s image belongs to God.
Many people when asked what it means to be formed in the image of God focus primarily on the spiritual side. We think of modeling our lives after Jesus in the areas of prayer, serving, worship, etc. However, we are more than spiritual beings. Being created in the image of God means we are spiritual, social, physical, intellectual, and emotional beings. We need to pay attention to every area of our humanity in order to develop a deeper intimacy with God.
We live in a culture that glorifies busyness.
As believers we have bought into a lie that says, “If I am busy, people will think I am important.” We do a great job of “bragging” about how busy we are. Our identity becomes wrapped up in how others view us. Busyness becomes an excuse for neglecting our relationship with God and not paying attention to areas of our lives that make us who we are.
In Exodus 20:8, God provides us with a great gift that promotes health in every area of our lives, deepening our relationship with Jesus, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
Peter Scazzero, in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, writes “Our human brain, our bodies, our spirits, and our emotions become wired by God for the rhythm of work and rest in him.” God never intended for us to become so busy “doing” that we neglect “being.”
God cares more about who we are than what we do.
Life is full of demands. Depending on our season of life we have work, school, families, ministry, taking care of loved ones, and many other things that call for our attention. Whenever we take the time to take a Sabbath, we are basically saying we trust God is capable of taking care of all of those things. We trust God can provide everything we need in six days of work.
Taking a Sabbath protects us from physical and emotional exhaustion, it helps us manage stress and enables us to think more clearly. The Sabbath also gives us a unique opportunity to focus on God and our relationship with Him.
The first step is to make a plan that enables us to stop working and rest. Think about what brings you joy: reading, spending time in nature, going out to dinner. Choose something you delight in that will take your mind off work. Pick a day or even half a day and commit to your plan. Try it for a few weeks, evaluate how it’s going and make the appropriate changes.
Practicing the Sabbath is not meant to be legalistic or burdensome, it is meant to bring life.
If you have young children, consider a “family sabbath.” A pastor friend of mind does this. When dad gets home from work on Friday, she lights a candle signifying the start of the family’s sabbath. She serves on staff at a church that has a Saturday night service so their Sabbath runs until early afternoon on Saturday. As a family, they do things together they enjoy: playing games, going out to dinner, sleeping in, taking a walk, praying together. What an incredible gift they are passing on to their children.
I have found in my own life that when I honor the rhythm of work and rest, I tend to accomplish more during the other six days of the week. I find myself more rested and energized physically and emotionally but I also feel more in tune to the Holy Spirit because a Sabbath provides both an external rest for the body and an inner rest for our souls.
What difference would it make in your life if you observed a sabbath? What is preventing you from taking a Sabbath?