There are six days to do what you ought. Six days to be caught in the web of economic and political and social necessity.
And then one day to take wing.
Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God
I still have not truly figured out Sabbath keeping. Maybe that is as it should be, always working it out, never quite finished; always on my mind, never quite grasped; reaching for my soul, making it a sanctuary, always discovering new terrain.
With Mike as a physician, working was often part and parcel of middle of the nights and weekends. Life and death emergencies arrive on Sundays as easily as any day. So our family has grown up worshipping in church regularly and finding community in small groups there, but in the grace that while Daddy is not keeping office hours on Sunday, he is working when called. He is doing good when good needs to be done. Jesus healed on the Sabbath and so any healing work seemed to us being true to honoring God's call to remember Him.
However, doctors aren't the only ones working on Sunday, pastors do their work on Sunday, as do nurses, firemen, police officers and now many, many jobs that many of us frequent on Sundays, grocery stores, coffeeshops and restaurants.
We have to be careful because our tendency is either to let Sabbath-keeping steer us into legalistic territory (something Jesus came to challenge us in and free us from), or throw it all out (something the Jews tried when they reached the Promised Land and God noticed). I am always trying to discover the heart of Sabbath keeping.
I have found little ways I turn my heart toward rest and honor God. I don’t claim these are earth-shattering, but they are regular reminders for me that I surrender my daily life to God. He is in charge and in love and I am only in love and learning under His wing.
I do laundry everyday. I always have. As soon as I had my first apartment and had a washer and dryer, I created the habit of daily laundry. But at the height of being a mama to a household of six, I decided not to do laundry on Sundays. It's a small way I stop my usual busyness and rest from my work. As tiny as it is, when I open the laundry shoot to throw something dirty in and see the basket filling up, I remember why I am not washing, drying and folding clothes. There’s something about seeing a pile of dirty clothes and not washing them that reminds me I am setting my own cleaning aside and looking at God to clean me. It may seem trite, but as the Sabbath was meant to sanctify, I can think of Him who washes me white as snow.
A few other small things I avoid on Sundays mostly because they are the work of my weekdays: running or classes at the gym, errands, shopping and cooking full meals. Of course, keeping the Sabbath isn't only about what we don't do. That would be missing the whole point. After church (a main part of Sabbath), we eat lunch as family and then I usually do things like call home, take a nap, take a walk, read a book that turns my heart toward kairos, enjoy family time, visit with friends or attend Life Group.
Please don't think I am telling you how you should keep the Sabbath, that is yours to decide. You are welcome to use my framework, what can I stop working on that is part of my other days and what can do that follows the heart of my Savior?.
Whenever I wonder if I am keeping it, I remember that the Sabbath is a delight and is made for doing good. This past Sunday, I was wondering if I really knew how to honor God's way. Here is what I did. I went to church, sang my heart out, off key I'm sure, hugged a few friends and heard teaching on "Behold, Beloved and Bestow". I did shop, stopping at the grocery store to get juice for Mike who was home sick and diapers for little Sweet Pea. I got other things on my list too.
Then Kyle and I went to have lunch with Sweet Pea and her family and bring the diapers. I snuggled my newborn granddaughter and marveled at the changing color of her eyes, her new lighter hair sprouting at the roots and how she is beginning to look like her own person, less her journey into our world.
I came home to bring juice to Mike and sat cozy on the sofa with him while I read Mudhouse Sabbath for an hour or so. Buckets of rain poured against our upstairs window. In a slight break in the rain, I drove to The Blueberry's house. I visited with his family while he tried avocado for the first time and was not impressed. I stayed with him, while his parents went to visit friends, their first solo getaway in several months.
The Blueberry and I always have fun. I gave him a bath and a bottle, read his favorite touch-and-feel books and rocked him to sleep to the sound of waves on the sea shore.
I don't know, it doesn't seem all that counter cultural to me and I drove a lot of miles, but it did seem good and worshipful and sacred.
From what I can tell, the heart of Sabbath is setting my soul on things with the stirrings of God. Sabbath is for freedom, restoration, peace, justice, kairos time, delight in God and doing good. That soul work is worth all the wrestling with the particulars. That sounds like my Christian faith and that might just be the point.