Today I am spending much of my Saturday working hard to prepare for tomorrow — a day I plan on taking completely and fully off. Taking a day completely off? Doesn’t that sound like a fantasy, something we can only dream about until we win the lottery and finally hire that full-time manservant?
Not so, friend. I am out here living the dream of having one day a week, totally and gloriously and completely off.
Today, I’ll make a big pot of tomato soup and prepare all the fixings for a black and blue salad (black angus beef, blue cheese), so lunch is ready to go for tomorrow. I will prep some chicken and vegetables, so Sunday evening all I have to do is pop dinner in the oven and then sit down to a feast with people I love.
I’m also cleaning the house, doing dishes, setting up the coffee maker, and getting ahead on laundry. Outside, I’m cleaning out the chicken coop and giving the ladies food and water. My only to-dos tomorrow will be to attend worship services, hang out with friends, and eat amazing food — and, if the day decides, take a nap.
Not a bad list. All of this is preparing for Sabbath.
This has not always been my sabbath routine. You see, Sabbath and I have had a complicated history.
For so long, I felt the tug to be a “good Christian” and follow all the rules about Sabbath. It somehow showed my devoutness that I would turn down invites from friends to go do something fun on a Sunday. (Yes, I was a snot.)
I’ve finally discovered, after way too long, that I was doing Sabbath all wrong. I’d always looked at it as a long list of “you can’ts” and “you shouldn’ts” I had to follow. To me, Sabbath was just a set of rules I was constantly breaking. (Nothing like long-term religious guilt served up on a weekly basis.)
After spending some time with people of the Jewish faith, I realized they had a totally different perspective on observing the day. Their day was one of rest, one to be celebrated and protected. It wasn’t a punishment or a long list of the things that they couldn’t do. It was a list of things that they didn’t need to do because the day is reserved for God and others.
After considering Sabbath as something special God has set aside for me, I’ve had a different way of approaching my Sundays.
Now, almost every day during the week, but especially Friday and Saturday, I dedicate some time to prepare for Sunday. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I try to get ahead on some projects, just a little at a time. Friday is our day to go into town, so I make my shopping list and meal plan on Thursday. On Friday, I go shopping for whatever we need, and then Saturday is my day to prep for Sunday. Saturday dinner is the signal to our brains and our bodies that the work is done.
We are not legalistic about it. Sometimes we are on a work trip or vacation and things need to be done on a Sunday. But no matter where we are, we set aside some time to honor God and be with those we love. It is our rest and reset for the week. And it is what my soul has needed all along.
This celebration of Sabbath has brought a beautiful rhythm to my seven days. Saturday night and Sunday are the natural culmination to our week, so everything during the week leads up to that day of rest and restoration.
We can take our example from Jesus, who was reprimanded more than once for “breaking” the Sabbath. His response stunned the religious leaders of the day:
Then [Jesus] said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
(Mark 2:27 NIV)
Since my mindset change, I have a different relationship with Sabbath. While it may look like I’m being legalistic, nothing could be further from my heart. I am receiving Sabbath as the gift that it is.
This practice of Sabbath takes practice. We humans are not good at the not doing. I feel so much more comfortable with a checklist and a lot of rules.
If observing Sabbath is new to you, a couple of things to keep in mind:
- At first, you’re not going to be great at it — and that’s okay. Keep trying. Eventually, you will go from wrestling with it to looking forward to it.
- Realize that observing Sabbath doesn’t change your day; it changes your week. Decide on a Monday that you will participate in Sabbath that Sunday and plan backwards, doing a little each day to prepare for Sunday. This is not to “earn” your Sabbath. This is to take the pressure off and truly be able to enjoy it.
- Make Sabbath special. Plan your time for worship. Plan your time with people you love. Finally, and this is important, plan for a time when you will decide whether it’s a nap day or not.
Because remember, Sabbath is a gift.