4 Steps to a Meaningful and Restful Sabbath

4 Steps to a Meaningful and Restful Sabbath
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All work—paid and unpaid—is good, but it needs to be boundaried by the practice of Sabbath.

The problem with too many leaders is that we allow our work to trespass on every other area of life, disrupting the balanced rhythm of work and rest God created for our good.

Sabbath is a 24-hour block of time in which we stop work, enjoy rest, practice delight and contemplate God.

1. Stop. Sabbath is first and foremost a day when we cease all work—paid and unpaid. On the Sabbath we embrace our limits. We let go of the illusion that we are indispensable to the running of the world. We recognize we will never finish all our goals and projects, and that God is on the throne, managing quite well in ruling the universe without our help.

2. Rest. Once we stop, we accept God’s invitation to rest. God rested after his work of creation. Every seventh day, we are to do the same (Genesis 2:1 – 4). We engage in activities that restore and replenish us—from napping, hiking, reading and eating good food to enjoying hobbies and playing sports.

Resting from unpaid work, however, requires advance planning. If I am to have any hope of enjoying a Sabbath rest, I need to set aside time during the week to attend to the routine tasks of life I won’t do on Sabbath—paying bills, cleaning or fixing something around the house, etc.

3. Delight. After finishing his work in creation, God pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31). This was not an anemic afterthought—Oh, well, it’s nice to be done with that—but a joyful recognition and celebration of accomplishment. As part of observing Sabbath, God invites us to join in the celebration, to enjoy and delight in his creation and all the gifts he offers us in it. These innumerable gifts come to us in many forms, including people, places and things.

As part of preparing to practice the Sabbath, one of the most important questions to consider is, “What gives me joy and delight?” This will differ for each of us, but part of the Sabbath invitation is to enjoy and delight in creation and her gifts. Geri and I both delight in the beauty and grandeur of nature—the ocean, lakes, beaches, mountains and star-filled skies. Geri is a “foodie,” so tasting, smelling and savoring the gift of food is a high priority for us. I delight in libraries and bookstores. Geri loves cooking a fresh meal. Through any and every means possible, on Sabbath we seek to feast on the miracle of life with our senses.

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Pete Scazzero
PETE SCAZZERO is author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Nelson, 2006), a groundbreaking work on the integration of emotional health and contemplative spirituality. He has also authored The Emotionally Healthy Church (Zondervan, 2003), winner of the Gold Medallion Award for 2003, Begin the Journey with the Daily Office (2008) and several best-selling Bible study guides. Pete is the founder and senior pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York City, a multiracial, international church representing over 65 countries.

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