Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 6 - What Happened to the Sabbath?

“‘If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.’ For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 58:13-14 (NIV)

Then Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath."
Mark 2:27(NLT)

While doing research for this devotional, I kept coming back to these two Scriptures. They were like splinters deeply embedded into the coarsest of skin; bothersome and annoying, but not overly painful.  I was constantly drawn back to them… continuously wondering why they puzzled me so much.  On paper, they make sense… even if I’m not thrilled to admit it.  The Sabbath was made to meet our needs… and what we need most is to NOT go our own way; to NOT do as we please.  However, it was the latter part of Mark 2:27 that threw me for a loop: The Sabbath was not made for people to meet its requirements.  It’s especially confusing when juxtaposed with Isaiah 58:13-14, which seems to be a list of directives for pulling off the perfect Sabbath. In a nutshell... they seemed to be contradictory.  

At 4:30 in the morning, I sat staring at my computer screen, scouring these two Scriptures.  Finally I just said, “Okay, Lord, I give up.  What is it?”  And almost instantly my heart settled upon a section of Isaiah 58:14: “then you will find your joy in the Lord.”  Immediately, my mind started to race.  I began thinking of everything I made the Sabbath out to be; every external (and worldly) influence that shaped my perception and expectation of the Sabbath. I was taught that it was the day of rest, so I used that as a license to disengage from the world… from my family.  From an early age I was taught that it meant dressing in my nicest clothes and putting on my “Jesus face” at church… even if my heart reflected something different.  Or how about the fact that I look forward to Sundays because it’s the one day that I can work without distraction… catching up on all the things I didn’t finish during the week and maybe getting a chance to tackle my “To-Do List” for the week ahead.

Even if I was at my sharpest, I could never rationalize these things providing me joy… fleeting, situational happiness… maybe … but they could never bring me eternal, soul-satisfying joy.  To be honest, I was left wondering what that even looked like.  But, in God’s amazing timing and consummate provision, I “stumbled” across this statement in a book I’m currently reading: “Sabbath was not about catching up on what you had missed the other six days.  Instead, it was a full twenty-four hour period of lingering conversations, festive meals, reflection, correction of attitude, and encountering and experiencing God rather than rushing through life.” (The Jesus Life p. 78)  And that is MOST DEFINITELY what I need. 

Having a relationship with Jesus, the thought of falling in love with Him, might seem a little abstract… or completely impossible (maybe even a little crazy).  Believe me, I understand.  The first step on this journey begins with spending time with Him.  However, don’t discount the powerful effect of honoring the Sabbath.  As you plan for the upcoming Sunday, ask God to stir your heart as to how you and your family can honor this holy day.  Try doing a little less “catching up or getting ahead” and a little more intentional living.  Spend some quality time with your friends and family.  And, spend some quality time with your Savior!     

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