When I hit the Holiday season this year I was WIPED. I usually enter January feeling that way, but this year was different. By mid-November, I was waving the biggest white flag at life that I could find.
Even so, at the beginning of Thanksgiving week, we packed up our SUV and drove our family (4 kids, under 10 years old) across the Southwestern US for my brother-in-law’s wedding in California. And then, on the way home with a week of school left for my kiddos, 5 holiday events the first week of December, and the conclusion of our church’s Women’s Bible study looming, we all got sick. We got so sick: it was a vomit in the car, runny noses, utter exhaustion SICK. And we weren’t sick for 2 or 3 days, we were sick for a solid 8 days. I cried and cried disappointed first world problem tears because I LOVE the holiday season with every fiber of my being. I look forward to it the second it’s over and we seemed to miss it all before it even began!
Remember when I said one second ago I was wiped in Mid-November? Honestly, when I was going to sleep the last night of our trip to California, I was overwhelmed by what lay ahead in my week. Nothing was as important as I’d made it out to be in my head and everything was easily (and sadly) canceled. We put homework on hold. We traded activities for snuggling and sleeping and fasting (as no of us had functioning appetites) and binge-watching The Crown and Christmas movies. And despite being sad about unmet expectations, we rested. A forced rest, yes. But also, I believe it was a rest I needed, and my Father provided it.
In the very early stages of developing The Gathering Well, we acknowledged that we all struggle to rest. This struggle is exacerbated by the culture and the year that we live in. We are always plugged in, always striving, always connected. And while God created us to be communal creatures, I’m not sure social media is the culmination of that. So, during an impromptu meeting in Jazmin’s bedroom last September, we talked about Sabbath. And we all committed to take one day a week to rest. IE. No social media, limited phone use, no work!
Here are some thoughts I’ve had regarding Sabbath in the 21st century:
Spiritual Reset: The Sabbath reminds us of our Creator by taking our eyes off of ourselves. (I’m looking at you, social media, with all of your filters and your look at me’s, and your self-promotion). Please hear me, social media is not INHERENTLY bad. We can all benefit from it in SO many ways, BUT, it’s also insidious and provides us with rushes of adrenaline that can become addictive. That surge of importance we feel in an instant with a thumbs up button can quickly supplant our real self-worth, which is in Jesus. When we walk with Him, we quit worshipping at the altar of self and place our worship where it should always be: the altar of the Almighty Creator God. A break from social media for the Sabbath, or longer, reminds us that our center is Christ, not ourselves.
Familial presence: One of my biggest fears AND already regrets, is that my kids’ childhood memories will be tainted by my third hand: the iPhone. When we Sabbath, we put it down and CONNECT. This weekly discipline can then foster a habit that spills into the rest of the week. When I take 24 hours to have a phone-free zone, I realize that my phone really can wait. There are hours and times and rooms where the iPhone is not necessary. And PS, for those of us who remembered life before cell phones, the truth is, we did just fine before they were invented. The world will NOT fall apart if our phone is in the other room.
Rest: If the Creator of the Universe chose to rest, who are we that we choose in abject disobedience, to disregard it ourselves? When I sit back and think of it, I’m in awe of my own arrogance. The world does not constantly need us in order to spin. The ground does not require us to sprout vegetation. The seasons don’t need us to change. The Universe does not need our work for the sun to shine. Our church, our friends, our co-workers do not need us to breathe. But we need rest to live. Our bodies and our minds are fueled by it. Our hearts (literal and figurative) are created for it. Our relationships thrive because of it. And if Creator God did it, we must and should, too.
As a gentle reminder to us, humans have apparently struggled with the concept of rest from the beginning of time. One of my favorite passages in my 20s was Psalm 46. You may be familiar with its most famous verse, 10, which says “Be still and know that I am God.” But in the NASB translation, the verse reads “cease striving and know that I am God.” When I read this the first time, I still had a flip phone and there was no Facebook, yet the word striving slapped me in the face. The rest of that verse reads this: “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” It is the natural progression of our rest. GOD will be exalted. Then this promise is found in verse 11: "The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold."
We take the weekend off around here. And we urge you to find a day of the week to rest, too.