The past few weeks in the Gospel According to Mark we've seen Jesus address questions on spiritual disciplines (Mark 2:18-3:6). Andy and Angela Metzger deepen our discussion on this topic in the following two-part blog series. Part 1, by Andy, can be found here.
In college, taking a Sabbath came naturally to me, as I always had plenty of time to fit it in. It pretty much consisted of me hanging around my apartment, drinking tea, reading, and going to church. When I got married and added kids into my life, however, my Sabbath routine (and life in general) drifted so far from my college lifestyle that I had pretty much given up on the idea of a day of rest. Andy and I wasted so many Saturdays just switching off babysitting our kids. Both of us would spend our time pretty selfishly, and at the end of the day we were exhausted, stressed, and disconnected. As life got more hectic, I realized more and more how much I needed a Sabbath, even if my “rest” looked really different than it did in my college days.
So a few months ago, I sat down and spent a few hours really just imagining, dreaming, and eventually writing down what it would practically look like for me to take a Sabbath. (I knew it wouldn’t be the same as in my single days, because...well...two young kids never let you just sit around, drink tea, and casually read!) But I came away from that time with two goals: to take a day of rest—remembering God, what He has done, and who He continues to be. And secondly, to let our Sabbath also be a family day for us—a day of intentionally spending time together to better love one another. So I thought about how I currently spend my time and “what ends up being restful” vs “what ends up being stressful.” In the end, there were just a few things we chose to avoid or “fast” from on our Sabbath: social media, computers, TV, and errands. Everything else is free game. We can hike, bike, swim, create art, garden, call relatives, have friends over, go to the park, cook, read, play music, play games, nap, or anything else that we find restful and allows us to spend the day together.
Now, in real life, some weeks we do this really well and others we don’t. Sometimes I don’t plan well for my Sabbath, and we have to go out to buy something. Sometimes I commit to something that I thought would be restful...and it was really just stressful and didn’t allow me to love my family well. Sometimes we make exceptions to the rules because someone is sick. We’re still learning and practicing what it looks like to pause and remember. I’ve learned that taking a Sabbath doesn’t turn me into a perfect wife/mom/person for the day (as much as I want it to). I am still a sinner, and that spills over into even my holy day of rest. But God is much kinder and wiser than that, and He uses my obedience to remind me of my neediness and His sovereignty.
I’ve found that taking a Sabbath helps us follow Jesus more closely. We are usually kinder and more patient with one another when we’ve rested (who isn’t?). We’re okay with house projects being left undone, because we know at the end of the day we’ve prioritized the ones who matter most in life. Hours don’t mysteriously disappear via Facebook, but we find ourselves having genuine face time with those we love. And what’s truly wonderful in consistently practicing Sabbath is that we’re reminded each week that our ultimate joy is founded on something more substantial than being the best weekend warriors or Colorado explorers. Instead, we find true rest—physical, emotional, and spiritual—in the love and grace of Jesus Christ.