Sabbath is time.
A study book* I'm reading caused me to ponder more closely what I'm doing with my Sundays -- the day I call the Lord's Day. We do church. We're there from about 8:45 until about 1:30. Isn't that enough? (Wow - isn't that the wrong question?!!)
The writer helped me to remember that a-day-of rest-after-work is an Edenic concept, and an eternal fact. Sabbath rest is not an Old Testament religious construct that we can chuck out the window now; Sabbath rest is heaven. Rest is what God has called us to do. When I fail to remember this truth, I fail to understand the New Earth God is making for me.
(I see our 7-day week as a kind of broken Ground Hog's Day movie nightmare. We work. We just get started into an eternal rest on Sunday, and then bamm! The week starts all over again. We can't seem to exit the loop and head into our real goal: eternity. Jesus did that successfully, though, on His Sunday. His resurrection broke through the Ground Hog's Day barrier and crashed into eternal rest, and we get to follow Him there. In fact, we can start remaking our lives now to get a good taste of what that wonderful rest is like!)
What should I do with my Sunday? The book writer reminded me that Sabbath rest is all about relationship with God. Hmm -- I thought, "So one day each week I basically have a day date with God." Is that too much time? Yikes - a day is a lot! (Again, that's the wrong question to ask!)
What do you do on a date with a friend or spouse? You devote time, you communicate, you think about each other, you enjoy the time together, and you try to serve the other person. That's a good start. I asked myself, "How can I do all those things, on Sunday, with God?" I'm devoting some time; I could devote the whole day. I need to pray more during the day, just talking with God, keeping my mind on him instead of the constant distractions of my life. I can read the Bible, journal my prayers, and most important -- relax, and enjoy the time. Don't look at the clock. Don't bemoan the things I'm not getting done. (Because ... I'm a doer.)
Part of Sabbath is trusting God that He will give me the time I need on Monday (and Tuesday and all week) to do the things I need to do. It's like manna: enjoy the food for the day and don't worry that it won't be enough. Sabbath is time, time to relax, time to trust that God will provide more time. More time? How much time? Eternity. All the time forever. For the Christian, there is always tomorrow, always more time to do all the things.
What about that last part -- serving God? How can I serve somebody who has everything and can do anything for Himself? What does He possibly need from me? Jesus tells us that when we serve others (especially the needy or those under our care), we are serving Him. If Sabbath is relationship with God, and relationship is service, and serving God is also serving others ... then on Sundays I should devote myself to serving others. My husband first, who is exhausted from his church duties. I spend time with him. I relax. I give him my attention. Other people also, as God brings them my way.
Who do I not focus on, on Sunday? Myself. I tell myself, "No," when my brain says to tend to the herb garden or make soap or clean the house or do the many, many things that I love to do -- tasks that give me a feeling of accomplishment, tasks I usually do alone and love to tick off my "to-do" list, and then dash off to the next task. For me, this isn't Sabbath rest because it doesn't keep my mind on God. It keeps my mind on myself and my labors.
I practiced this new approach yesterday, and I found it interesting. It wasn't hard to catch myself in activities that I should avoid. "There'll be time for that tomorrow," I told myself. I found it a richer day. I found my spirit much calmed by so much one-on-one time with God. That alone was lovely.
"Thou has made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it find its rest in Thee."
-Augustine of Hippo
*Nancy Guthrie's Even Better Than Eden, "The Story of Sabbath"