“If you watch your step on the Sabbath
and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
God’s holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’
making money, running here and there—
Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
Isaiah 58:13-14a (MSG)
Psst… Do you want to know a secret to enjoying God? Unlike other promises of reward or blessing, this secret does not demand more from you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This secret invites less from you.
The prophet Isaiah spells it out for us in Isaaih 58:13-14. Among the encouragements in these verses, he says, “If you treat the Sabbath day as a day of joy… then you’ll be free to enjoy God!"
It’s the secret of the Sabbath. Sabbath is not something that asks you to give more or work harder or get your hours in so you can take time off. Instead, Sabbath invites you to joy by pausing for one day of the week from your “productive” routines, in order to be more fruitful with your life in God.
I’ve often confused Sabbath with "not working". But I’ve come to realize that being productive isn’t just about your paid work, because most of us also have grocery-shopping, cleaning, errands, and shuttling kids around to do as well as planning vacations (which can be stressful and not all that restful). Practicing Sabbath, instead, is making space to enjoy God for a 24 hour period through practices and activities that you get to do, not the ones you have to do. Sabbath is about finding joy in the space in-between periods of productivity… only to find ourselves more productive in God’s strength and wisdom. The practice of Sabbath, in many ways similar to the practice of tithing. They’re both incredibly counter-cultural. Where tithing is an act of faith to say that God can do more with my 90% than I can with my 100%, Sabbath says that God can do more in the six days of my week than I can do with all seven days of my week.
This summer, as you pause from some of your regular routines for vacation and rest, take the time to practice Sabbath in new ways one day a week. Need some ideas or got ideas to share? Send me a note about how you’re discovering new sources of joy in your life this summer, or share your discoveries to social media and tag @wcfchurchdc #secretofsabbath.
Flourishing together with you,