This week’s spiritual discipline topic is about being still and resting. The Biblical practice of Sabbath first right into this topic. Although Sabbath was expected on the seventh day of the week, the principle of taking a ‘sabbath’ to rest and focus on God is key. It is well worth thinking how it could be intentionally practiced in addition to any traditions and practices around the ‘Sunday’ practices; above and beyond your Sunday habits. Think of it as a ‘Sunday on steroids’.
First, pick a day to cease from everything that would otherwise drive your week. I would suggest sometime mid-week, make it an exercise of giving God priority rather than your ToDo list or your work commitments!
Then I would suggest you go away. Go somewhere you won’t be able to be distracted by others or distracted by the odd jobs that catch your eye. Escape to a place of solitude. My uncle used to go for walks in the hills; the church fathers used to escape to the desert. We are very blessed in Mildura; we don’t have hills or a beach, but we do have plenty of desert and a stunning, serene river. Escape to somewhere quiet.
Hand in hand with that is the need to switch-off. I mean literally; switch off the phone, don’t check the emails, ignore facebook – realistically if we take them with us they will soon become a distraction. Switch them off. Technology is great, but it can run our lives at times too. Switch-off.
The big question then is what to do for that whole day [of half-day, or whatever time you have allotted]. Because the idea of going away and taking a Sabbath seems to be very daunting to many people. But it seems to me to be kind of like the first few times you embark on something new; at first we are often apprehensive and unsure but the more it happens the more normal it becomes. Still the big and obvious question is what do you actually do on a day when you cease from what you would otherwise do??? We’ve already talked about many other disciplines that could be incorporated into a Sabbath day. Scripture reading and meditation, prayer, listening, journaling, silence, walking, imagination, even sleeping. (sleeping is about subjecting yourself to God’s order of creation rather than fighting our God-given needs.) On a Sabbath day, you do whatever needs to be done to cease from everything else and to spend time with God.
Do it all in the context of submitting to God and Meeting Him. Trusting Him, worshipping Him, loving Him, obeying Him, seeking Him, listening to Him, talking with Him. Be very intentional throughout the day about actually meeting with God. Isn’t that what it is all about – it is a practice to bring us to and remind us of God’s presence and our dependence.
Hopefully that gives you a starting place. If it is something you would plan to try [which I strongly encourage] I would be very happy to help further. But there is a starting place with some practical steps towards the discipline of rest. “Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10