Welcome to the Sabbath!
………….Wait. Aren’t you going to answer my questions?
Well, we are trying to engage with the whole Sabbath spirit and allow a little more white space, you know?
But you just left me, like, sitting here.
Sorry, we shouldn’t poke fun at your frustration. Taking a Sabbath can be hard. Especially at first.
Thank you. Exactly. I mean, I want to want to rest. I know it’ll be good for me. Eventually.
Except right now it’s just driving you twitchy not to check your email?
I just want to see if that one I’m waiting for came in. Is that so bad?
No, perfectly natural.
And I mean, it’s not even so much the email as the rules.
What I can do. What I can’t do. Those rules.
What if we were to tell you there were no rules?
You’re not making me feel better.
You mean, you want to know how your Sabbath is stacking up against worldwide Sabbath trends? Whether you’re following best-practice Sabbath guidelines? Whether you made it on the Leaderboard of Rest?
You make it sound like I’m just full of myself.
What if we put it this way: You wonder if your Sabbath is a complete failure.
You know those judgments—the competitiveness and the dejection—are two side of the same coin, right?
I guess the second one just sounds holier.
Jesus called. Dejection isn’t holy.
Look, don’t beat yourself up. The Sabbath is like a blank page that all those writers are always talking about. The lack is the hard part. The lack of rules. The lack of structure. The lack of work. It’s an emptiness. Emptiness grieves us. There’s a reason you feel unsettled.
So it’s not just me?
But—I’m sorry, don’t be snarky—how do I know if I’m doing it right?
We can feel the ache in your question.
Yes, I mean, for once could this faith thing be simple, and just tell me what to do? I just want something to be simple. Just once. Just tell me how to get to the peace I am desperate for.
The peace is in the middle of feeling unsettled.
How does that work, exactly? Also: that is not a simple answer.
I feel you. Still, though, when you get to the point where being unsettled doesn’t freak you out, when you can exist for a day without thinking work justifies you breathing in every breath, then you will find more peace.
Okay, but what do I do until then? I mean, I need some practical help here.
We’ll give you three suggestions. One: don’t overcomplicate it. Let go of one thing that ‘has to be done’ for a day. Making money. Spending money. Laundry. Reading for your classes. Exercise. Not-exercise. If that feels good, maybe try letting go of more.
What if I want to let go of doing my quiet time, praying, or going to church?
Are you trying to shock us?
I guess so.
We don’t shock easily. Sure, take an intentional rest from religiosity. Don’t do it with bitterness, though. Maybe do it with curiosity and hopefulness.
Okay, choose one thing to let go of, cheerfully. What else?
When you choose things you can do, choose stuff you like doing but often don’t have time for. Art, reading, spending time with family. Make the day juicy and rich.
So I could play Angry Birds all day if I want?
Sure, go ahead. Just see if you feel rich at the end of the day. If you don’t feel joyful, maybe try something else. You might be surprised what your heart is crying out for.
Are these your official answers? No to prayer and yes to Angry Birds?
Who ever said anything was official? We’re just throwing ideas out here. If you’re not sure, try the whole prayer thing again, and lift these suggestions up to Jesus for approval. But look: we’re not Orthodox Jews. How many Christians in the US don’t take any kind of Sabbath at all? At least for now, let’s rejoice that the “achievement” bar for the Sabbath is set pretty low.
I hadn’t thought of it that way.
Right? Okay. Last suggestion. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
What, while I’m enjoying my day off?
Enjoyment takes practice. Rest takes practice Especially intentional rest. Don’t be surprised if it takes you a while to settle into a rhythm. Basically: you’re not doing it wrong.
So when I feel panicked about sitting still, that’s okay?
Jesus can meet you there, just like he can meet you in any other place. It’s just in the asking.
Hmmm. Okay, so let me see if I got this. It’s okay to be unsettled. There are no rules. Pick something to let go of. Pick something you enjoy. Don’t overthink, don’t judge. Be open to surprise.
That last one’s huge. It helps keep the Sabbath from turning into drudgery. Or legalism.
Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.
You’re welcome. Can I pray for us? Jesus, we long for your rest. We don’t know how to find it on our own power. Give us wisdom to find your Sabbath rest intentionally, and to pay attention to how you’ll surprise us by showing up to the beauty of its emptiness. Amen.