3 Reasons to Engage the Practice of Sabbath

Riley Vandevoorde
April 1st, 2021

Take a second to do a quick review and reflection of your current workweek.  What does each day look like? When do you have the most meetings? When are you going to student events? When are you having quality family time? Those three questions might even be just a fraction of what your week actually looks like.  

If you write out your current work week, what emotions do you feel? Do you feel anxious?  Overwhelmed? Frustrated?  Do you feel as though there is not enough time, that there is no way to get over the busyness that seems to creep in slowly?  

The last question I would like to pose is, during your week, when do you rest?  I’m not talking about a 15-minute catnap, or maybe a long weekend once a year.  I’m talking about a consistent period of rest for you.  A time that you can be reminded of who your Lord is, a time to be intentionally thankful for the people in your life, a time to fill the hours of a day with activities that will rejuvenate you and not drain you.  

Do you sabbath?  

I know what you might be thinking, my schedule is so busy as it is, how am I supposed to schedule one more thing into it?  How am I supposed to stop the regular flow of my life to introduce a new practice like sabbath keeping?  

That is exactly where we are going in the next few paragraphs; three reasons to engage the practice of sabbath.

Intentional Time Focused on God 

This is the number one reason.  When we recall the Israelites in the season after the Exodus, they are delivered the ten commandments.  A helpful guide for them on how to live in community with God and with others.  We see that God has blessed the sabbath day, “therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.”  (Exodus 20:11b NRSV)  This day set aside is special.  Yes, it is a day to rest, but in that rest, it is good for us to focus on who God is.  

In this time it may be helpful to remind ourselves that we are not God, that our schedules are not God.  Taking time weekly to intentionally be with God for an extended period of time can help us take steps in that relationship.  To weekly choose to set aside time to be in the presence of God is a way to draw close to God in a tangible expressive way.  

Intentional Time Focused on your Relationships

The second reason to engage in the practice of Sabbath is to also spend time with intentionality with close relationships.  This can be immediate family, extended family, or even friends.  What would it look like to take an intentional step to spend quality time with family or friends?  Immediately you may be thinking, “Oh, so now I have to schedule a time to have people over to my house? Do you know how much cleaning I would have to do?”  Maybe that’s all true.  But what would quality time with family or friends look like without the feeling to impress?  To be in a space where we are constantly focused on God, and the results of that focus on God pours over into our relationships with the people around us.  

Intentional Disciplines to Bring us Close to Christ

It will take planning to truly begin sabbath keeping.  It will take some preparations to allow yourself to be intentional with this time.  But it is in this intentional discipline that our relationship with Christ grows.  

Dallas Willard talks of the professional athlete in, The Spirit of the Disciplines, and how they achieved what they had.  A kid could mimic every single move a professional athlete makes in a single game, but that kid still would not be to the level of that athlete.  Why? Because the kid has not seen the countless years and years of practice that attributed to that athlete’s success.  What we read of Jesus in the Gospels are somewhat of the highlights, what we do not always see are the moments in between those highlights.  The small disciplines that Jesus would have partaken in as a Jewish Rabbi, the small disciplines that train you for the big highlight moments. 

If we hope to be like Christ in everything that we do, in all of our conversations, if we hope to have the level of compassion that Christ has, we should be disciplined in the little things of life too.

The challenge ahead of you is to start with a few hours of intentional time with God.  Walk with God, talk with God.  Then try to do that once a week for a month, and you will be on your way to having a healthy practice of sabbath keeping.

Riley Vandevoorde

Riley serves as the Director of Student Ministries at Granger Community Church (GCC) which also is the church he grew up in. He and his wife live close to South Bend, Indiana. They have two dogs, Nala and Scout.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.