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Sabbath in the Busy Season

My husband shoos me away from the kitchen.

A teething baby had me up and down most of the night, so my husband tells me to go get some rest.

In a bit….

When I finish….

I still have stuff on my to-do list…..and then maybe….

The problem is the to-do list keeps growing because I have eyes that see mess and clutter and projects everywhere I look.  I’m trying to clean while my kids are home and we all know how that goes.

He says it simple: You’ll always have things on your to-do list.

That’s life-changing wisdom that bounces around in my head all this week and settles in my heart as I prepare for the holiday rush of an overstuffed calendar.

This busy life, this busy season and yet still I try to live a lie: that at some point I’ll finish the list, the busyness on the calendar will end, and then I can rest because every single project and chore is done, done, done.

And since that never happens, rest never happens.

I learn from Priscilla Shirer’s book, Breathe, that the word for Sabbath (Shabbat) means:  “to come to an end, to cease, to stop, to pause” (Priscilla Shirer, p. 42)

Sometimes that pausing and ceasing and stopping is a choice that you have to make.  I don’t have to finish what I’m doing.  I just need to press pause and rest anyway.

Leviticus 23:32 says:

“It will be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must practice self-denial“ (HCSB).


That’s what Sabbath requires.

But not the kind we law-loving humans tend to push down on each other’s shoulders.

We make self-denial about do’s and don’ts.  We make regulations.  We make rules.  This is what Sabbath should look like.  This is what rest has to look like.  This is what you can do.  This is what you can’t do.

We wring the joy right out of the Sabbath with our Pharisaical attempts to make holier what God has already made holy.

Not, it’s this: Rest is self-denial.

It denies that compulsion to work and work and do and do.  It declines to base our identity on performance and accomplishment and forces us to rest in His love for us.

Adrenaline is my addiction.  The rush and stress of it all pushes me along and when it’s removed, I’m a nervous, jittery, restless soul not sure of what to do or how to be.

Sabbath is the rehab my soul needs.

Sabbath sets me into the rhythm of rest and re-sets my life on the foundation of grace instead of the shaky ground of works and law and self.

It allows me to meet God in that holy space just like Moses did on that sacred mountain:

“The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days.  Andon the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud” (Ex. 24:16, ESV).

God called to Moses on the seventh day….

That glory lingered in preparation for six days, but on the seventh day, God’s voice boomed out of that cloud and called Moses close for intimacy and revelation.

In Breathe, Priscilla Shirer writes again:

“I’m praying that the Lord brings all of the glory held in the arms of the ‘seventh day’ to you and me. I’m asking, of course, that we’ll see His presence and sense His favor in our every activity, every day of the week.  But in those spaces and margins–those ‘seventh day’ borders–that our ‘no’s’ create, may we hear the voice of God and experience nearness of fellowship with Him like never before.

The holiday season presses in and threatens to overwhelm us with expectations and perfection and activity.

But isn’t Christ what we want in the midst of it all?  Don’t we want His glory more than tinsel and lights and His voice more than presents with ribbons and bows?

And if I want Christ more than this, more than it all, then I begin right here.  I deny self.  I press pause on the to-do list.  I cease the activity.

I find room to breathe.

And I ask Him to show me His glory here in the seventh-day spaces I create in my life.  That’s His invitation to invade my life with His presence.


To read more devotionals by Heather C. King, please visit her at http://heathercking.org/

Copyright © 2008-2015 Heather King

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