Integrated Life: Sabbath

 This past Sunday we explored the topic of Sabbath Rest and how it relates to an integrated life.   True Sabbath rest isn't just the cessation of activity or work it is creating moments and rhythms of openness and receptivity to the love and presence of God.  It seems Jesus was more interested in the heart of the Sabbath rather than a rigid keeping of the Sabbath Law which required that no work be done.  Jesus, more than once healed on the Sabbath and encouraged his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath (Matt 12:10; Mrk 3:2,Jhn 9:14-16, Lk 6:2).  I wonder if in these acts He was modeling for us that He, and in turn God, were more interested in love, mercy, and grace than meeting a certain "moral standard" or keeping a strict set of rules and regulations.  
       In Hebrews 4 the author invites us into the Sabbath rest of God.  This Sabbath is not for some far off time after we die.  It is for this very day- this present moment.  Unfortunately, many of us get so caught up in our agendas, to-do lists, managing our relationships, rule following, and our own thinking that we miss out on the Rest that we are invited into.  We falsely believe that when we accomplish our lists, have our relationships right, act morally good and control our thoughts we will find rest.  While those all may be good, they will not give us Sabbath rest- only God can give us the rest our soul longs for.  
      In order to accept God's invitation to experience Sabbath Rest, we must first believe that God is loving and gracious to each of us.  The beliefs of a judgemental, harsh, demanding, sacrifice requiring God make it hard, if not impossible, to enter into the kind of Sabbath Rest Jesus exemplified.  Jesus knew the Father to be loving, merciful, and gracious so it was natural to heal on the Sabbath or have his hungry disciples pick food on a Sabbath. For Jesus, relationships, mercy, and grace trumped the law.
      Jesus says to us,  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest!  Put on my yoke and learn from me.  For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:29-30). If only we really believed that at a gut level!  We all have varying degrees of unlearning to do about who God is and how deeply He loves each of us.  But no matter how deep the mistrust of God is, if we are open- even a little bit- He will meet us. And with each small step in the direction of Love our capacity for Sabbath Rest increases, which in turn leads us back to deeper Love and trust.  

Reflect this week: 
How open am I?  
What lies am I believing about the character of God?

By Babs May-Clark