Discipleship,  Life

Personal Sabbath Update

Allow me the opportunity to provide a personal update of my first three weeks of taking a Sabbath.

While recording this update here provides me an opportunity to reflect on my experience, my primary goal is to encourage others as I record my own thoughts in a journal.

I am taking this opportunity to provide an update because I am approximately halfway through this journey to discover and employ a Sabbath in my life. My first post on the need for rest was in late February and I will finish reading my first book on Sabbath at the end of June. Thus, this is about the midpoint and is a good time for reflection.

Of course, if you have been reading, you have glimpsed into my thoughts from both a biblical perspective and a practical perspective. But God has also revealed the perspective of preparation.

This need for Sabbath has been building in me for some time. But as our world deals with COVID-19, I have added a few matters of responsibility and am taking more time to do other things like trying to visit each member/regular attender of our church at their home (yes, we are practicing social-distancing during our visits).

Thus, my life has not slowed down. My schedule may be slightly different, but it is as rigorous – at least to this point. The current semester ended yesterday, so it is possible that I will gain a little time now. But in the midst of the busyness, I have not taken time, I have made time for Sabbath.

So what have I done? I have

  • read more than usual. I have finished one book that I had previously attempted, and should finish a new one this weekend. I have also begun to catch up on a few magazines that had piled up.
  • started a puzzle which is likely the first time I have worked a puzzle without my children since I was a teenager.
  • taken naps.
  • played some video games. Frankly, I do not do this often (since my Unstuck blog series in 2018), but I have played for a couple of hours and have enjoyed it. That is, I have not felt guilty.
  • watched part of a tv show that I wanted to watch. I plan to finish this weekend or next.
  • spent time with my wife in the evenings without me being in front of a computer or tied to my phone.
  • called my mother and had extended conversations.

I have also conducted a funeral and provided a little guidance for a church member and talked on the phone with others. Although it is my day to rest, doing these types of activities certainly falls in line with what Jesus did in healing others on the Sabbath.

But mainly, I have found a different rhythm. The idea of rhythm was last week’s post, but it is so true. I have been busy. Indeed, I am busy. But I am finding time to not be busy. I am ignoring my phone. I am not turning on my computer. And I am realizing that I can be content.

If you look back at the list above, you may notice something. I just typed the ideas as they came to me, but those bullets represent a truth. They move from task to relationships.

First, I must confess that I am more task oriented than I want to be. I often focus on tasks over relationships. Again, the list above shows this fact. I began by focusing on what I am doing (even though it is relaxing and not focused on productivity or effectiveness), rather than who I am with. Granted, in the midst of this pandemic, with stay-at-home directives and social distancing in place, it is difficult to be “with” certain others, but calling can count.  

Second, I see the possibility of that focus changing for one day of the week. Again, I am doing things right now, but it has nothing to do with a calendar or task-list. Rather, it is what I want to do, and I think over time I will find myself wanting to use the day more to be with others in some capacity. Of course, that begins with my wife, but as I continue to embrace Sabbath, I see great possibilities for the future.

So, that is a quick review of how I am learning to observe Sabbath and what I am doing. The initial part of this journey is a little beyond the midpoint, but I have only actually made Sabbath work for me the last three weeks.

I want to be open in future weeks as I continue to adapt my former task-first, no off-day mentality. But over time, perhaps I will build some intentionality into the day (beyond reading) once some of the current restrictions are lifted.

Whatever I choose, I know this – I am finding myself relaxed and enjoying life more over these past three weeks, despite the continued busyness during the other days, and I do not want to lose this new rhythm I am discovering.

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