Growing up, my folks instilled in me a respect for Sunday, the Lord’s day; though not as extreme as some of my friends at church. Our morning usually consisted of Sunday school, church, and then the same fried chicken and fried okra at the same restaurant, washed down by sweet tea and Ms. Missy’s pie. Our afternoons were made up of football, naps, and playing outside, with a Sunday supper thrown in at some point. Dad has always been a small business owner, and despite the great opportunities that Sunday held, he kept his business closed on the Sabbath. Now these may seem like irrelevant details that do not relate directly to my work, but they have shaped my expectations, values, and views on what the Sabbath entails.
As I have read and meditated on Deuteronomy 5:12-15 this week, I have begun to see the contrast in these verses, two themes: work and rest. I think that to properly relate the Sabbath to my work, it is important to understand and explain the contrasting themes of work and rest.
If the Lord lays out Sunday as the day of rest, then what logically precedes is six consecutive days of work leading up to the Sabbath (which is clearly laid out in Deuteronomy 5:13). The Lord has created me to glorify Him through labor and work, specifically to work well on the Hill right now. Though I am not currently put in the position of having to work on Sunday’s with my job, in order to fully honor the Sabbath, in my opinion, it is important to work well, with purpose, for the work week leading up to the Sabbath. In order to rest well, there has to be work done well. Oftentimes to a fault, I worry if I am being perceived as a sharp kid and a hard worker, and am focusing too much on the image that I attempt at portraying.
And after six laborous days as an image bearer of the Lord Almighty, the Sabbath presents itself as a day of rest. “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all of His work which God had created and made” (Gen 2:3). As I have sat and thought about what this means in my life, and how it is reflected in my work, I feel it is important to define words. When I say rest, I do not refer to a literal translation of getting sleep (I would love the history of the Hebrew word). Rest is an absence of my daily routine Monday through Friday (or potentially Saturday in the future). Sunday is a time that I set aside for church, community family, and fellowship. That looks different every week, whether it is gathering for a meal, fixing a shelf for my mom, or playing football in the backyard. I think this is a great example at looking at Jesus for the ultimate example. He was healing wounded people, and was quick to criticize the leaders of the community at the time, because they were missing the whole point of the Sabbath.
We are made in the image of God, and the chief end of man is to love thy Lord God with all of thy heart, and love thy neighbor. I believe this is a great motto for my life on the Sabbath, to love God, family and neighbors at church, and all day long in the neighborhood.
The Sabbath is a rejuvenating day, allowing me to reflect upon the other theme of work in my life. My favorite part of these verses is the beginning of verse 15, the Lord and His faithful deliverance of His people. And because of the Lord’s faithfulness and sovereignty over all things, we shall keep the Sabbath. One of the most important things that I have to keep reminding myself of during this year of vocational wandering is that the Lord is faithful, that He is providing, and He will provide. I often catch myself complaining of the things He has given to me at work, or not being thankful of His gifts. The day of Sabbath is a special day for me, for it allows me to take a step back from my work, to reexamine my work, and try determine if I am bringing Him glory through what I am doing Monday through Friday. It is a time I prayerfully go before Him, to ask blessings on the week of work, and to ask Him to reveal Himself in what I am doing. It is quite okay that I do not know what my vocational calling is, and the Sabbath is a day that I try and make sure not to worry about any work or what lies ahead (though I should trust Him with my future all seven days; it is difficult) and to praise Him for what I have been given.
The Sabbath is about more than just Sunday, and Sunday is about more than just relaxing. As I have pondered this week of how to honor the Sabbath through my work, my simple realization has been that honoring the Sabbath well means working for the Glory of the Lord through my work. I have made an extra effort this week, though frustrated with arduous tasks, to go above and beyond in making sure all of my work is done on time. I have attempted to make the best coffee I possibly can, have tired to break the record of surveys done in one day, and have attempted to have a good attitude while doing such things. As my father has taught me, it is hard to sit back and enjoy being finished with a project if you did not do the project well. The best example of this is God in His creation. Days one through six, He created the world, and it was good. Day seven, He rested.
It is important to take a step back, to enjoy the Lord’s creation, as He enjoyed it Himself, and to spend time loving on Him and loving on one another. It is a time of thanksgiving, prayer, and reflection on the work He has called me to do, and a time of prayer and trust for what He has in store for my life. It is hard to hear the Lord speak to you when you do not take time to sit back and listen.
image: freeimages/Thiago Spada