The Sabbath is defiance against function. It’s permission to waste time. It really is.
It’s one day a week where God says, “Don’t do any work. Enjoy me. Enjoy food. Enjoy people. Prioritize relationships. Waste time.”
Even writing these words are counterintuitive to me. The reason? I’m a slave—immersed in a dominant culture that prizes function over relationship and success over beauty and work over freedom. I’m in Egypt. I look more like Egypt than I do Yahweh.
And that’s a problem, because the one who made me designed me to look like him. I should look like my Father.
The Sabbath helps us rediscover our birthright.
Surely that’s why the Sabbath is all the rage these days. It’s like a rediscovery of our birthright—like a lost treasure buried so long ago that no one knew where to find it. Surely there is a cry to be heard in the oppression of depression, sleeping disorders, and elevated stress levels (of both people and the earth).
Surely there’s a cry to be heard in cows injected with growth hormones to grow unnaturally fat or fast because none of us can wait a single day or hour or minute for what we want. None of us can stop working—not ever, not even think about it—because we are more inclined toward money and status and success than relationship, beauty, and freedom.
That’s the definition of slavery. You can’t stop working.
I found myself at an Apple store one Labor Day weekend. In America, Labor Day was created to give workers a break. But on this Labor Day weekend I had something needing repair.
I commented that I probably wouldn’t be able to get my phone back until the Tuesday after Labor Day. The man looked at me like I had just been born. “We are open on Labor Day.”
I remember saying to him, “Do you not get what Labor Day is celebrating?”
He smiled at the sarcasm and said, “I get time and a half.”
We live in Egypt.
If you had to choose between a day off once a year or more money, you would pick more money. Of course you would.
But when the oppression of work without rest begins to wear us down and we start to buckle under the weight of “never enough,” the sheer weight of the whole world revolving around us, we start to look for some alternative answers.
And we don’t have to look far. Look at the Sabbath.
Rest and peace.
The Sabbath suspends time. It points backward and forward at the same time. It grabs holds of the future God has planned—a future of shalom.
Shalom is a Hebrew word often translated as “peace” but meaning a whole lot more. It is about wholeness and right relationships and the valuing and living of goodness. One scholar says it’s about the space between everything being made right. Think about that. The space between everything.
Like the way you relate to others and the way they relate to you. The way you think about yourself and the way others think about you. The holes in your life that your serenity slips through (doubt, fear, anxiety, depression) all being filled up with goodness and peace.
Shalom is the primary part of the Sabbath. When Jewish people celebrate Sabbath by sitting around a dinner table with the family and relishing the freedom and goodness that exists in the space between them, they clink their glasses to this toast: “Shabbat shalom.” Rest and peace.
What is keeping you from Sabbath rest? How can you organize yourself to experience rest and peace on a regular basis?