Most people hear the word sabbath and think of the Jewish or Christian day of rest. Families going to church or temple, then staying at home for the remainder of the day not working. For me it has become a principle to apply to every area of my life, rather than a specific day.
In Genesis we read how God – the One who needs nothing to exists and created the universe from nothing – rested on the seventh day. Then in Mark and Luke we see how Jesus – the perfect Son of God who never sinned and Savior of the world – would go to quiet, solitary places to rest and pray. If they needed to rest. If they needed quiet, solitude, peace. Then maybe, just maybe, we need it too.
As woman in this century we are expected to be super woman in so many areas of life. Not only are we expected (either by those around us, society, or ourselves) to be a Proverbs 31 wife, patient and kind mother, motivated and accomplished business woman, creative and organized homemaker, and social to everyone. We are also expected to be there for anyone who needs a shoulder to cry on at anytime of day or night and to continue through it all with a smile and perfect hair. Just thinking about all the things that I do as a woman makes me tired. Yet, so many times we are told that we do not do enough or that we should not be tired because it is “what we are supposed to do”, “others do even more” (and they can proudly show you their comparing list), or “the Lord should be your strength”. At the end of a long day when we finally lay our head on the pillow and our mind ceases to run a million miles an hour, this pinging thought remains. It wasn’t enough. Everything that was done. All that I poured myself into. It was not enough. I could have done more. I should have done better. I am not enough.
It is saddening that so many of us go through life with this outlook. Even if we do great things, it is never enough. We are never enough. We talk in dreamy tones about how one day we will get it all done and maybe deserve a moment of relaxation, but deep down we know it will never all get done and we will not feel as if we deserve anything. Stop waiting. When you clean dishes you always run water over the sponge before you start scrubbing that dried on food away. You would not expect a sponge that has not been dry for 3 days to clean a sink full of dishes before pouring any water on it. Then why do we expect ourselves to do everything with a smile and patience when we are exhausted and in need of replenishment?
Elijah had just defeated the prophets of Baal and proved to many that Yahweh was God. Now he found himself running from Queen Jezebel and wishing that he was dead. How could one who had done such great things, be so defeated? He was tired. Doing God’s work was exhausting. This man who had just been used by God to do amazing wonders, defeat false prophets, and prophesy, was worn out. He was close to God. He was doing God’s Will. So why wasn’t God his strength? Why couldn’t he just keep going on the knowledge and fact that God was his strength? Isaiah 40: 31b is often quoted when we are tired or have way too much on our plate. “They will run and not grown weary, they will walk and not be faint.”. But have you ever read the whole chapter? It leaves you with an aw-struck picture of God. By the time you get to the last verse you truly feel as though THAT God can give you strength to face whatever you need. It says in the beginning of verse 31, “those who wait for the Lord…”. Wait. I hear this and think back to Jesus. His times of early morning quiet. Praying. Listening. Waiting. Being refreshed. I believe it is in that place we receive the strength of a tireless God. After Elijah cries out to God in distress and exhaustion, an angel comes and gives him food, drink, and rest. He awakes again and eats. Then he is ready to continue the Lord’s work.
For me the sabbath is a principle. It is not once a week, its daily. Daily I find time to rest. Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. Spiritually. To rejuvenate my body, mind, and spirit. Like Jesus it might require me to arise early. Like Elijah it might require eating and sleeping. Sometimes it is a cup of tea and a book. Other days its a hot bath with classical music. And some days it is laying down, listening to worship music, crying my heart out to my Father or just soaking in His presence and love.
Find sabbath (a time of rest) in your day. Pour water onto that sponge before you try to clean a sink full of dishes. Glean from the strength of a tireless God. Put your mind at peace and realize that expectation does not have to rule over you.
**Genesis 2:2. Mark 1:35. Luke 5:16. 1 Kings 18:16-19:9. Isaiah 40.