A Model for Sabbath

For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. –Exodus 20:11

It seems as though almost daily I read an email from a fellow Christian who is tired and burnt out. There is so much about life that is exhausting. I know this firsthand. It’s real and it’s ugly.

Many people don’t even slow down enough to be faithful to God’s call for Sabbath, which simply means, to rest. I received some great advice early on from a mentor who urged me to faithfully guard and protect that day of rest. My mentor was right! Without intentional action, it’s simply too easy to slip into justifying non-Sabbath actions like, “I’m just going to pop into the office,” or, “I’m so far behind, I just need to catch up.”

I’m afraid that many Christians have little clue about what the Sabbath is or how it is observed. Certainly among Christians, there are many different views and practices of the Sabbath. There’s no doubt that it can get confusing.

I understand that the Sabbath doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all experience, but for what it’s worth, here’s my approach:

I want to experience as many of the following as possible:
Relaxation. I take it easy. I sleep in. I don’t fill the day with a lot of activities. I try to maintain an attitude of rest throughout the day.
Recreation. I usually feel better and accelerate my rest after some form of exercise. It may be at the gym, but it’s usually a long walk or hike with my wife, Cathy.
Relationships. Any time I choose to spend time with someone on my Sabbath, it is a relationship that inspires me, breathes into me and is rewarding for me. No work, just friendship.
Reading. For me, so much of my reading during the week focuses on speaking or sermon preparation. So, for my Sabbath, I choose light and fun reading.
Reflection/Restoration. Reflection describes my extended time with God. I’ll usually reflect on the past week, look through my calendar and think about what I might have missed that God had laid out for me. A busy week doesn’t allow me the reflection I really want or need. Restoration describes personal soul-care. It’s my time for worship, prayer, silence, Bible, and journaling. When I’m not traveling, I typically attend church as part of my restoration plan.

There is no usual order to these areas. I just try to experience them all throughout the day.

My prayer is that the Sabbath becomes a day of refreshment for you and your family. My hope is that it becomes an anticipated highlight of your week!

1. When was the last time you experienced a real Sabbath?

2. What would your ideal Sabbath look like? What keeps you from living out your ideal?

Mark 2:27-28; Mark 6:31

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Doug Fields

Doug Fields

Doug is the senior director of HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Doug speaks to thousands of leaders, teens and parents each year. He teaches youth ministry at APU, and provides leadership and resources as a part of the Youth Specialties Team. He has authored 50 books and blogs at Download Youth Ministry. Doug, Cathy and their three children live in Southern California.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns and supported by Doug Fields, HomeWord and Azusa Pacific University have partnered to form The HomeWord Center for Youth and Family. Learn More »

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    APU is a leading Christian college ranked as one of the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Located near Los Angeles in Southern California, APU is a Christian university offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master's, doctoral, and degree completion programs, both on campus and online. Learn More »

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