Sundays used to be special. At some point in my past, I remember when the pace of this day of the week was different. Maybe it was because most stores were closed, or because my responsibilities in life were much different. Whatever the case, over the past few months, my wife and I have talked about the need for change.
What has become clear to me lately is that somehow everything has become a blur. Sundays have become just another day of the week where after church I return emails, or work on grad school assignments, or write blog posts, or work on projects around the house, or for my neighborhood.....and the list goes on.
God knows we are weak. He knows we are needy. He knows we can't maintain a full throttle pace in life. He knows we need rest. Most of all, He knows we are quick to forget.
Most of us know that God created the Sabbath, and wants us to honor it. Unfortunately, at least for me, honoring the Sabbath is something that can quickly be replaced with the tyranny of the urgent. [This might be my favorite picture from Israel. Someone took a picture of Steph and I while we were praying on Mt Arbel, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. This is the mountain scholars believe Jesus prayed all night before choosing his disciples.]
When in Israel, a Jewish man explained to me what the Sabbath means in his culture, and how they go about resting on it. The Sabbath is not just something they do, but something they prepare for. In other words, the Sabbath is on their minds the entire week, so that when it arrives, they are able to actually rest.
In Israel, the Sabbath begins at dinner on Friday night, and runs through dinner on Saturday night. For this reason, he explained, they cook meals on Friday so they can eat them on Saturday (their Sabbath). If they are going to cook on Friday, then they buy the groceries on Thursday so they can cook on Friday and rest on Saturday. If they are going to buy groceries on Thursday, then they do all their laundry on Wednesday, so they can buy groceries on Thursday, so they can cook on Friday, so they can rest on Saturday. You get the point.
This is profound. My wife and I discussed this for quite some time, and began to make our plan of how we will prepare to Sabbath. Here are a few points we made:
1) Emails must be returned on Friday. I just can't finish the week with emails that have built up throughout the week. In addition, for important emails that come up on Saturday, I will make a point to respond to them then, as opposed to waiting until Sunday.
2) Grad school requires a schedule. I have set up specific times throughout the week that will be my time to work on grad school. I will not even consider Sunday as an option. This will require pacing myself during those designated times.
3) Cooking will be done by Saturday. On our first Sunday back, we were surprised by a cake that needed to be baked for a small group meeting for church. Steph and I found ourselves mixing the ingredients while discussing how this could be done differently moving forward. We will look ahead at the calendar, and any cooking will be done before Sunday.
4) Media isn't truly restful. Be it the TV, video games, or my blog, these will be turned off on Sunday. Only on rare occasion will we choose to do something in this area. We have chosen this because we know that these mediums are distracting, possibly relaxing, but not restful.
These are the main boundaries we have put in place. We will be replacing these things with naps, walks as a family, fun games with our kids, and most of all... dedicated time to teach our kids about the goodness of God. Steph and I want to make a point to remember what God has done, and to tell our kids all about it.
We know in order for this to happen, we have to prepare.
Is your Sabbath restful? Why or why not?
If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.
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About Kevin East
Kevin East is the Executive Director of Family Matters. He and his wife Stephanie have five unbelievable kids, two of which they most recently adopted. If Kevin isn't busy with work or family, you'll probably find him in the woods near his house with a power tool. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
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