Retirement…Vacation…Sabbath!

     Yesterday I wrote, “celebration is a necessity not an option.”  That may not seem like much of a lesson to you. But I grew up in a family where the protestant work ethic was king and most celebration was considered frivolous. I highly doubt we would have attended “moxie day”.

     If the truth is told, we probably would have worked “moxie day”. Dad would have cooked for the crowds; Mom would have driven the moxiemobile; My sister and I would have been dressed up in costumes throwing cans of moxie at the cheering crowds.

     I guess there is nothing wrong with that. I love to work and to serve. In fact, growing up as I did I learned that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.  The satisfaction from a job well done has proven to be one of life’s greatest joys. But admittedly it has made me a little unbalanced when it comes to life and work.

    So last weekend I learned that celebration is not an option for me it is a necessity. But I learned something beyond that. I was reminded that not only is celebration necessary, so is rest. 

     Here in the nation of 24/7 we generally make light of rest. We say things like: “No rest for the weary!”; “I’ll rest when I’m dead!”; or one of my personal favorites “Time to coffee up and get back to it!”

     Yet for a culture that really doesn’t value rest we certainly have a lot terms for it: chilling out, kicking back, retirement, vacation, holiday, respite, nap-snacking, long-weekending, beaching it, hittin’ the hay, taking a break, taking a breather, pacing ourselves,mental health day, sick day… sabbath…. Oh wait! that’s right we don’t actually use the word sabbath in our country anymore do we? Do you find it odd that the biblical word for rest is the only word we don’t use for taking a break?

      Now don’t get me wrong, I like the concept of retirement…and I really like the concept of vacation. Should the church suddenly decide to take away my 28 days I would be really….really….REALLY sad. 😥 Still I have to admit, I really don’t see “vacation” in the Bible. I like it. I just don’t see it.

       I do see sabbath as a concept everywhere in the Bible. I don’t see it in our culture. I like vacation. I like retirement. But they cannot replace sabbath.

I was reminded of this truth as I rested along the rocky coastline of Maine last weekend. God showed me I was there to rest, not to do, to listen not to speak.

     My brother-in-law spoke to his pastor about me before I went. Cliff told him who I was but also told him I was there to rest not to minister. I really appreciated that.

     We were built to work…just not all the time. Our lives require rhythm. We were meant to live according to a theme:  work… then rest…work…then rest. Six…then one…six… then one.

     I’m not religious about sabbath but I am beginning to realize that the pattern cannot be done away with without consequences. The sabbath routine might stand up to some stretching, but only so far before our lives begin to short-circuit. We cannot go 351 days of work then 14 days off and hope to remain healthy.

     We also cannot replace rest with celebration. I discovered as I lounged at Cliff and Andrea’s that I needed to recuperate far more than I needed to celebrate. I needed sabbath more than I needed “Moxie Day”.

    I came away from the weekend feeling I was going to change some of my vacationing routines.

    I am going to break my vacation up into sabbaths for rest. I think I am going to take a few days more frequently rather than a lot of days all at once.

Tell me how do you view sabbath?

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12 thoughts on “Retirement…Vacation…Sabbath!

  1. Thanks Pastor J

    Funny … in the last ten years sabbath has taken on a new meaning 🙂 I am learning to rest when I should instead of letting my body shut down on me. Sabbath is whenever I feel the need … I just call it a day and close shop. I have what I call *do nothing* days . On those days, I … do… nothing! I just chill. Sometimes I listen for His voice, at other times I go into a natural rest. I do not think it was ever His design for us to run our bodies to a wreck.

    Nice of you to rest as a minister. I wonder if my father ever learned how to do that 🙂

    Blessings,
    ann

    • Thank for the comment Ann, As I said I am not religious about Sabbath (at least not yet). I think we each need to find a rhythm in our lives that includes rest and follow that rhythm faithfully. God helped man by prescribing a routine for us to follow. I sincerely hope you Dad did find a place of rest. It’s not easy sometimes.

  2. Hi Pastor J,

    For those who are still in the workforce, this is excellent advice! Before I became ill and unable to work, I was the kind of teacher who thought I had to be at work every day. I hated to be absent from my classroom. Thankfully, for teachers like me, we had several holidays built into our yearly schedule, so if I didn’t have the sense to take off when I needed to, I had no other choice, LOL!

    With you being in full-time ministry, I’m glad you see the value of stretching your vacation time across the calendar year, rather than taking the time off, all at once. After all, you minister constantly, and sometimes you just need to sit back and be fed. You need to be replenished! May God bless you, as you continue to do the work that has been assigned to your hands. Have a great day!

    Paulette

    • Thanks Paulette,
      In ministry, time management is a constant battle, one I have lost many times over. As I age I am finding myself being drawn more and more to the necessity of the Sabbath and it’s not just because I’m older and fatter 😎 ! Thank you for the work you do in spreading His gospel! Thanks for the comment!

  3. ….Genesis 2 2-3 By the seventh day God had finished..the work He had been doing so on the seventh day He rested from..all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy ..because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had..done…..SDS Seventh Day Sabbatarians quote this verse as proof..that the Sabbath Law was given to MAN before the fall.

    • Jesus said the “Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath”. His point was we shouldn’t look at it like a law we have to obey, we should see it as an opportunity we get to take! Thanks for commenting!

  4. I love the sabath and I love the fact that the south still celebrates the sabath and enforces blue laws down here! The stores and even some fine eating establishments close their doors so that families can worship our heavenly father together on the 7th day. Now I have to admit it took some getting use to and occassionaly even now I might get” putoff” when my favorite eating hole will not accomadate me and my family after church, But then I remember that we all must have a day of rest, to love and serve the Lord…. and somehow that brings a lil peace into my heart and nostalgia back into focus. I hope that you my dear cousin can find a lil peace of sabath yourself more frequently. Remember..for it is when we are the stillest that God speaks the loudest.
    Blessings
    Karen

    • A-men Karen! It is so good to hear from you! I am finding my sabbath rest and I am so grateful to our God that He has blessed me with people like you to encourage me towards that rest! 🙂

  5. Pastor J . . .you’ve given me something to think about that I had pushed aside. Thank you. God has brought that up to me before and i tried to have a day a week more geared toward rest, but then would soon slip back out of it. I’m a caregiver and so it will have to look a little different for me, but I know there is a way with Him. 🙂 Thank you so much for reminding me and God bless your sabbath rests!

    • Debbie, Praise God for the work you do! Caregiving is a sacred responsibility and one I was involved in for almost twenty years! You are right when you say the Sabbath looks a little different for those who do your work. the Scripture says in Hebrews though “there a remains a Sabbath rest for God’s people.” Even in the labor God can provide that sabbath space for you. I believe it. I found it while I was working in the field. I will pray that God will help you in this too as you seek out the specific rhythm of your life.

  6. I really enjoy your article and your answer…Jesus said the “Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath”. This took me to deep dive into Jesus activities on Sabbath, and He taught us that should be a delight (Isaiah 58:13) It should be the most joyful day of the week. As the Sabbath bring us into the presence of God our creator we shall begin experiencing on earth a taste of the happiness we shall have with Christ in heaven.
    I hope more and more people discover this wonderful benefit….

    • A-men Patricia! One of my prayers is that the body of Christ in America will return to an appreciation of the Sabbath He has GIVEN us as a foretaste of His Kingdom coming! Thanks for your comment!

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