Sabbath is a wholesome experience of reconnecting with the Maker, reconnecting with our identity, purpose and the hope we hold on to.
Published on: 05-30-2022
Sabbath is one day I particularly look forward to. After a week of work and activities, the sound of rest soothes the soul. But being involved in church ministry, I find that Sabbath can be the busiest day of the week. From choir practices to visitations, potlucks, Bible studies, and Pathfinders, there is a never-ending list of things to attend to. The Sabbath, often buried beneath a clutter of activities, can result in restlessness.
One Sabbath, at the verge of burnout, I just paused and asked myself, “What does the Sabbath really mean to me?” It surely wasn’t supposed to be all-consuming or tiresome. After crossing out all the possible definitions of Sabbath, I realized, again, that Sabbath is a date with God. God had set this day apart since the beginning of time, since Creation. He knew what humanity and their busy schedules would look like, and created the Sabbath. “Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27), Jesus said—for you and me!
The highlight of a date is not only what we wear or where we go to or the elaborate plans made for it. It’s simply the time spent with one another. God demonstrated His love by setting an entire day aside to spend quality time with us. He uses this day to express His love, and in turn we can do the same when we intentionally spend time focused on Him alone.
During quality time I am not distracted with the notifications on my electronic gadgets, or with church gossip, or the happenings of this world. Quality time is intentional; it’s time set apart. As I spend time with Jesus, I get a chance to reflect on Him and see His will and purpose more clearly. As I imagine holding on to His nail-scarred hands, I accept His sacrifice. As I begin to thank Him, He calls me His child. And as I share what troubles me, He shows me a whole new future awaiting for me with Him in His place. Sabbath is a wholesome experience of reconnecting with the Maker, reconnecting with our identity, purpose, and the hope we hold on to. Sabbath is truly a delight (cf. Isa. 58:13, 14).
The experience of Sabbath is moving from rush to rest. Jewish theologian and thinker Abraham Heschel aptly states that the Sabbath is “an ascent to the summit.” Just as God pronounced the six days of Creation as good, but the seventh day holy, “one can move from good to holy by observing the Sabbath.”*
An invitation for the Sabbath is sent out to all. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Rest for our wandering hearts and a foretaste of the rest that we will ultimately experience in heaven, where there won’t be any barriers, boundaries, or sin to separate us from God. Sabbath is a foretaste of the bond we will share with God in heaven.
You could be a churchgoer and still not have figured out what the Sabbath means to you. One thing you can learn from me is that it’s better late than never. You wouldn’t want to miss out on this blessing.
* Abraham J. Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Young, 1951), p. 75.