April 17, 2013

Sleeping through the Race and the Sabbath

Puppy races on the Sabbath

I once gave a cursory nod to the Sabbath. 

Sunday rolled around and the first day of the week seemed to be last.

I pulled on clothes, grabbed my big blue NASB and headed out the door with the family to go to church. We would eat out afterwards and then head home for the rest of the day, everyone with his or her own agenda.

Scanning the TV listings in the guide, I searched for a NASCAR race. Crawling into an unmade bed, I turned the sound down to hear only the garbled voices of the race announcers and the sound of cars passing microphones along the track. It was sure fire way for me to be lights out in no time.

Most Sundays my NASCAR tradition found me waking with just a few laps to go and I would see the finish of the race, not that I cared one way or the other. It just seemed to happen that way.

If NASCAR wasn’t a Sunday option, there was always golf. But I would choose NASCAR first since I was slightly more interested in a good golf shot. 

When my nap was over, my Sabbath ended. I was rested and ready for my week. At least that is what I told myself.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8)

My Sunday routine was without intention —other than finding the channel playing the car race. The fact was my Sabbath tradition wasn’t about keeping anything holy. It was about me.

When my friend Shelly Miller invited her blog readers to form a group that would together intentionally make the effort to remember the Sabbath, to enter its rest, to make it holy, I was ready to join.

I had a bargain book from the Christian bookstore in a pile of “to-reads” and I pulled it out. It was a pretty good book, written by an academic with a heart. It wasn’t well-edited and that bugged me. Sometimes it was so heady, I got lost in its swirl. Despite that, I began to grab hold of what it might look like for me to obey the command to keep Sabbath---one that I was certain was for my good.

I decided Saturday would be my surrendered day. It was the end of the week on the calendar after all. It seemed to be the day I could be most prepared to keep things holy, to set them before Almighty God, and intentionally connect the blessings of my life with the One who has blessed me so.

Sabbath isn’t lived in solitude but I am no one’s Holy Spirit. I haven’t and don’t plan on insisting those in my life join me in the path God has me on. They have their places and they play their roles like every day. Somehow on the Sabbath, I see them differently. I think more deeply about their holy purposes in my life and mine in theirs. I thank God they are living right in the middle of my Sabbath, part of the story He is writing on my life. 

Holiness is a longing that comes from my heart and as I surrender it to God, He shines new light on what has been, what is, and what will be. I take the gift and I share my wonder as joy. 

Joy on the Sabbath is God’s gift to me, and to others through me. Everyone wins.

Sabbath joy remembers that all things pass through holy, sovereign hands. Joy remembers the things undone on the Sabbath will be redeemed, set in place once again. It is the lesson on eternity.

Wonder comes when the heart turns the night, then the day, toward holiness. 

An unexpected beauty comes as the Sabbath prepares the soil of the soul for more of God's grace, His goodness. Sabbath is never held in the confines of time or experience. These days of wonder have ignited a deep desire for more holy times, a hunger for righteousness even on the busiest, most time-crunched days of life. Rest comes as I turn my heart, if only for a moment, toward the One who holds all things together.

You can still find me curled up “watching” NASCAR on many Sunday afternoons. Maybe, I’ll know who won, maybe I won’t.

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