[This post is part of a series about observing a sabbath.]
In this series, we have been talking about dimensions of the day itself: Rest, Remembrance, and Relationship.
But in this post and the next, I want to mention two, kind of, meta dimensions, that contribute to the day but are outside of the day.
The first meta dimension is denial.
It is not easy to observe a sabbath.
It sounds easy. Rest, remembrance, and relationship, these are all things we love. But when you get to your sabbath day, you will find that it is actually difficult to do one or all of these things.
Isaiah speaks of the Sabbath in this way, as something that needs encouraging and requires intentionality: “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words” (Isaiah 58:13, NIV; cf. Leviticus 23:32, NIV). We are not, on the Sabbath, just doing any old thing we want; we are resting and remembering in relationship as the Lord has directed.
So, as we approach a sabbath, we must realize it is an act of denial. We are denying ourselves. We defying our culture. We are opposing our itch to keep going.
For me, resting can be difficult. You will recall that we said the rest of sabbath is the rest of stopping. Well, stopping is hard. Turning off your brain. Keeping the email app unchecked. Ignoring that unfinished chore or repair. Letting go of that worry. These open-ended aspects of life are difficult to rest from.
The solution? I don’t know an easy way around the itch to keep going, but I am here proposing that you at least anticipate and be ready for it.
When your sabbath day comes, you will be tempted to fritter it away. Don’t. Deny the resistance, and keep a sabbath.