Sabbath rest doesn’t just mean not doing stuff. It doesn’t mean we’re required to just sit around all day. Sabbath rest means taking time to refresh our bodies, minds, and spirits; it means taking time to be with the Lord; and it means taking time to enjoy the good things God has blessed us with.
As we wrestle with the idea of Sabbath rest, we must think about not only how we rest, but how to find time to rest.
I’m no expert on Sabbath rest, but here are some ideas.
TIPS FOR FINDING TIME TO SABBATH
1. Be willing to say “NO.”
You can’t Sabbath rest without the time to do so. If you have a full plate, don’t put anything else on it! In fact, take some things off.
The condo board will do just fine without you. Your kids will not miss out doing activities four days a week instead of five. It’s OK to stay home and read on the couch when everyone else is doing something.
2. Schedule nothing.
Simple concept: Have a day where you schedule nothing all day.
Sleep in late. Stay in your pajamas way too long. Treat yourself to lunch. Hit up someone you want to catch up with. Check out that thing you’ve been wanting to check out. The day is yours.
3. Do a “Bare Minimum” Sabbath.
OK, maybe it’s impossible for you to have a whole day off, but what is the bare minimum you can get away with? In other words, what has to be done and what can wait?
For example: You have a deadline on a paper that must be met. You must pick up your kid’s medication. You must feed your family. (But can you order out? Can you plan ahead to make sure you have left-overs in the fridge?) But do you have at least one set of clothes to wear today? Yes? OK, then, the laundry can wait until tomorrow.
What absolutely needs to be done today? Everything else can wait.
There is always something else that has to be done. So list things in order of urgency, work through the list, and when you reach the non-essentials, start your “bare minimum” Sabbath.
4. Give 20 Minutes to Decompress.
If you’re a married couple, and it is a situation where one person comes home from work to the other (whether one is a stay-at-home parent or gets home from work earlier), don’t barrage your spouse with concerns as soon as he or she walks in the door. Allow your spouse to take 20 minutes or so to get changed out of his or her work clothes and decompress however he or she wishes to do so. Often this 20 minute break after commuting home refreshes the person by giving a moment of pause between work and home life.
The couple may then choose to swap once the 20 minutes is up. For example, the stay-at-home parent now gets 20 minutes to decompress as the other spouse spends time with the children.
5. Trade Off Babysitting
Trade off babysitting with another family. They watch your kids so you and your spouse can spend time together; then, the following week, you do the same for them.
Couples can trade off watching the kids too. For instance, the husband can spend time with the kids so the wife can run out to a coffee shop for an hour and have “quiet time” to read Scripture and pray, and then the next day, the wife does the same thing for her husband.
6. Use Your Kids for Sabbath Rest.
Having young kids is often the most exhausting season in a person’s life. Kids take up a lot of your time. They move at their own pace. They demand a lot of attention. But kids also make you slow down. I have a 5-year-old and a 19-month-old. When I’m around them, I can’t get much of anything done, so I made peace with it. Use your kids for Sabbath rest. Go outside for a walk or ride around the block. Play games. Read books. Watch a good movie together.
My wife Christine and I like active vacations. We like to camp and hike at National Parks. But we noticed a pattern when we’re on vacation: We’re so excited to be on vacation, we want to do and see as much as possible, but after two or three days, we’re exhausted. So, we became much better at having balance during vacations. For example, we may do a rigorous hike one day where the exercise and mountain air refreshes us, but the next day we’d relax around the campsite and have a more leisurely day.
Finding a good balance between activity and “down time” when you rest is important.
For example, if you’re someone who is always working out or playing sports, you probably want to not work out or play sports when you Sabbath rest. On the other hand, if you get little exercise, some exercise during your Sabbath will probably be a good idea.
WARNING: TV, VIDEO GAMES, & INTERNET
Things like TV, video games, and the Internet should also be considered when it comes to balance. People spend a lot of time looking at screens of one sort or another and often these things do not refresh us. So, you want to avoid falling into the same habit during a Sabbath.
I used to fall into the habit of mindlessly scrolling through social media on my phone when I finally sat down exhausted on the couch at the end of the day, and it never made me feel more rested. In fact, it made me feel worse because the news, politics, and combative nature of the Internet stresses me out.
On the other hand, if someone has little time to watch TV or movies, it may be a refreshing treat to sit down and watch a movie or some TV for an hour or two. Watching a movie together as a family can be a great way to rest together as a family. A great Sabbath rest for you may be going to church on Sunday morning and then watching a football game afterwards.
The danger we have to look out for is using these things as a crutch to “self-medicate” or “check out.” There is nothing wrong with a little escapism. (For instance, I prefer to watch movies and TV shows that get my mind off the problems of the world, so I prefer comedies and fantasy adventures instead of realistic dramas.) But Christians are called to be clear-headed and Christ-minded.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Col 3:1–2)