Every once in a while I’ll go out to lunch by myself. I never used to go out to eat alone because it made me very, very uncomfortable. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who can sit and enjoy a meal alone without a book or phone or security blanket, but I’ve never gotten there. I always, always bring a book with me to use as armor. And of course I keep my eyes focused on the book and avoid making eye contact with anyone (lest they discover that I am, in fact, a loser). Still, I’ve come to love and look forward to my solo lunch outings.
These meals have become a way for me to honor the Sabbath.
I don’t really get a Sabbath in the real sense of the word on Sundays. Sabbath in Hebrew means to “to cease, to stop working.” The Israelites dedicated an entire day to rest, refraining from doing any sort of work, and dedicating the time to God.
My Sundays look more like a marathon than a day of rest. I really want to get a FitBit for the sole purpose of tracking how many steps I get in on Sunday mornings trekking back and forth between the nursery and the preschool area and the grade school hall, making sure everyone is present and accounted for and that the goldfish supply is fully stocked (BLESS). Sometimes I am preparing to lead in worship and other times I am filling in teaching a Sunday School class or bandaging a bloody knee. My Sunday mornings are rarely peaceful or quiet. They are typically loud, busy, and chaotic, and so they are not my Sabbath. Instead, I have to find my Sabbath in other moments—lunches alone or cups of coffee or walks or time spent with a good book.
Honoring the Sabbath is a practice that requires intention, discipline, and self-awareness. It requires us to acknowledge that there is in fact a time to work and a time to rest and sticking to it.
When we live into the Sabbath, we become the people we were created to be—people made in the image and likeness of God. The same God who worked and created and made something “very good” and then rested. When we live into the Sabbath, we also acknowledge that God often moves in the stillness. I think we miss God’s voice because we stay too busy, too frantic, too loud to really hear it. Honoring the Sabbath honors the presence of God. It says that we want to connect with God enough to let go of our distractions—we are willing to stop what we’re doing and be still in order to listen for God’s voice. It is a hard and holy practice, and it is worth it.
What does Sabbath look like for you?