People tell me they can't take a 24-hour sabbath because they have young kids.
What folks mean is some non-restful activities demand our attention. Those caring for older parents or attempting to sabbath with others (and their competing ideas of rest) express the same sentiment.
While there are challenges here, the idea that others can keep us from a sabbath is ultimately a misunderstanding of sabbath — more so of delight.
Sabbath and Delight
God expended His efforts toward a satisfying day of creative work and then stopped. At the end of each day, God stepped back, looked at what He made, and said, "It's good" (Genesis 1:4, 10,12, 18, 21, 25, 31).
Ceasing work at the end of each day was directly connected to delighting in a job well done. The Hebrew word for sabbath carries both the idea of stopping and delighting.
Stopping and delighting transfers into the seventh day.
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. - Genesis 2:2-3
At first, the idea of a holy day is hard for us to comprehend; however, we treat days off, vacations, and even objects as holy. For example, your toothbrush is holy — set apart for your usage only.
Like God's end-of-the-day-delight, sabbath is an entire day to delight in God and His good gifts. This takes work.
The Work of Delight
The book of Hebrews says we must strive to enter Christ's rest (Hebrews 4:11). Did you catch the paradox?
On a sabbath, we cease paid and unpaid work, yet we work nonetheless to enter rest.
I love how Justin Early puts it:
Proper sabbathing is much more about doing than not doing. It’s about doing restful things. In this sense, real rest takes real work. - Justin Early (Source)
Delight takes focus, energy, and effort. We know this. Enjoying a piece of art, cake, or a conversation requires savoring.
That's a helpful word when thinking about sabbath — savoring. At this point, objections about sabbath-obstacles fall flat in light of the reality of sabbath.
Sabbath is not 24 hours of leisure; it's 24 hours of delight.
One day a week to enjoy God and His good gifts does not mean we're consumers binging everything in sight. It means we stop our six-day a week type work to focus our energy on rest.
How to Sabbath with Others
Before our weekly sabbath, I always ask my family what they would enjoy. Then we work together toward delight in Jesus and His good gifts.
My young kids might want nothing more than to play on the floor with Legos. Some weeks sitting on a hard floor doesn't feel restful to me.
But sabbath isn't about my leisure. As I work to help my children delight, a curious thing happens. I delight in their joy.
Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said:
It's better to give than to receive. - Acts 20:35
We don't have to be at the center of delight to enjoy life. Joy often takes its deepest roots when we're not its main priority.
What plans can you make this week to help others delight in God and His good gifts?
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