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The kids recited, swaying their little bodies with the beat:
ONE, no gods before me!
TWO, no idols!
THREE, don’t take God’s name in vain!
FOUR, remember the Sabbath…
I smiled, thinking:
What exactly does it mean to remember the Sabbath?
I’m not here to debate or champion a certain view, but as the kids were reciting the Ten Commandments the other day it got me thinking about our family’s journey of Sabbath, of finding a rhythm of rest.
A few quick thoughts:
- Originally the Sabbath was Saturday (the 7th day).
- Jesus rose on a Sunday (1st day of the week).
- The early New Testament church gathered on a Sundays, which was a work day. (Presumably they did this after work.)
- Traditionally in America we have observed Sunday as a sort of Sabbath, when businesses closed and attending church was the respectable thing to do.
And so we have this mix of Saturday and Sunday and worship and rest and strong opinions about businesses being open or closed. We think everyone should observe Sunday as a rest day … except for pastors and mothers (smile).
So what do we do? Thankfully, since Jesus doesn’t make a hard and fast rule, we don’t have to either. For our family, since we have both a mom and a pastor in our home , the rest-on-Sunday thing just isn’t an option. Sunday is Jeff’s busiest day of work, and to call it his “rest day” certainly wouldn’t be fair to him or to our children, who want a REAL rest day with Daddy!
So for us, it looks like this: Sunday is a worshipful work day, and Saturday is a worshipful rest day. On Sundays, the kids don’t do school, and they’re allowed to have a completely free, open play-time all morning. We usually make pancakes and they can stay in their jammies if they want. Because our other days have more structure, they enjoy the morning of freedom (in fact, I find they are more creative on Sundays than any other time). For me, it’s one morning to just be home, cook ahead, leisurely clean, write, and catch up. Then the afternoon is work–prepping food for church, loading the car, getting kids ready, and arriving at 3:45pm to set up the building. It’s almost 8pm by the time we’re home and the day is done! It’s not a day of rest but it is a day of joyful work, which is worship!
Because of this, Saturday is our worshipful rest day, and “rest” is interpreted as things which restore, refresh, and renew us. Each family member gets to choose one thing to do that they enjoy and we all join in on that thing.
For us, this works as a rhythm of rest.
So what about that 4th commandment? Do we obey it or not? Perhaps the real issue is this:
If we follow the 1st commandment, the 4th commandment will work itself out.
Usually the reason we don’t rest is because something is tweaked with the first commandment. Something’s up there next to God. And whatever it is (pride, people-pleasing, fitting in with cultural norms, etc.) it is driving us on and away from a peaceful rhythm of rest. It’s pushing us to a frantic pace and leaving us witha vague guilty feeling that we “should” be doing more. When our first aim and highest goal is ensuring that Jesus Christ is on the ONE and only throne of our life, then He can call the shots and order our days. All of our days, not just the one where we rest.
As we close, here are a few fun ideas to practice establishing a rhythm of rest for your family (Quotes from Richard Swenson’s book, Margin–excellent read!)
- Turn off all electronic mediums, just for one day.
- Practice Simplicity and Contentment: Richard Swenson says, “With fewer possessions, we do not have as many things to take care of. With a simpler wardrobe, our choice of what to wear each morning becomes less time-consuming. With a smaller estate, there will be less debt bondage to our work schedule. Everything we own owns us. We must maintain it, paint it, play with it, build space in our house to put it, and then work to pay it off. Perhaps if we had fewer things we might have more time… the amount of genuine leisure available in a society is generally in inverse proportion to the amount of labor-saving machinery it employs.” We don’t need more time-saving devices!
- Be Unavailable. We must have margin and boundaries. Create some.
- Think Long-Term. Consider the Tyrrany of the Urgent. It drains us of energy, time, and resources. Think long term and plan your life thoughtfully, according to long term plans. Yes, chaos happens. But a clear long-term focus helps us make clearer, wiser decisions in the midst.
- Get Less Done but do the Right Things. “All activities need to be assessed as to their spiritual authenticity…we must have God-centered criteria with which to judge all activities … our modern view of time is to compress it and milk it for every nanosecond of productivity we can get.” I always remind myself, God will allot me time for all the activities which He has ordained for me to do. Productivity is not the goal–fruitfulness is. Consider and perhaps cut back.
- Be available. Pastor Bruce Larson says, “It is possible that the most important things God has for me on any given day is not even on my agenda.” Have I created enough of a margin, white space, in my life, that when Divine interruptions come I am able to embrace them as God’s scheduled work for me?
- Give your kids what they really want: Your time. The best gift you can give your kids is time. Many famillies schedule their lives FULL of activities for the kids–classes, lessons, parties, trips, vacations, but what the kids really want is for parents to sit down, get out the Legos and just play. Or read. Or talk. Or have a tea-party. Kids just want our time, unhurried, with no agenda. I really believe that kids in America are absolutely starving for unstructured time with their parents. And yet it’s so hard, as parents, to lay aside the busyness and the “to dos” and sit with our kids in the grass and watch bugs. Lord help me do more of that.
And now, as it is a Sunday morning and my kids are freely playing, I just glanced up and saw these hoodlums in my home: