Author | Steve
First, let me say that I know very little about living in Sabbath. But God is teaching me.
I’ve known for a long time that it is a commandment:
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”
~ Exodus 20:8
I’ve grown to understand that what God commands He always intends to bless. Dan Allender, in his book Sabbath, writes:
“A commandment is often assumed merely to be a prohibition. Such thinking is idiocy.
God’s commandments prevent us from sucking diesel fumes
in order to orient us to delicious, fresh air (p. 7).”
I just started reading this book at the recommendation of a new friend in my life. The first chapter has already got my brain reeling. Today, I just want to share something that I had forgot, but remembered because of my reading. Allender says that central to Sabbath is “delight.” He goes on to write:
“…I believe that, to some extent, we are all troubled by delight. We are not averse to pleasure escapes or vacations. To vacate is to empty – that is, to get rid of something. When we vacate or take a vacation, we are not merely taking off from work; we are flushing away the cares of the world as we indulge in the diversions of our empty space (p. 11).”
“The Sabbath is the kind of delight that leads to life (p. 12).”
“[Sabbath] is about good food, drink, music, conversation, and
the remembrance of sitting with God in the garden (p. 14).”
“The Sabbath is a feast day that remembers our leisure in Eden
and anticipates our play in the new heavens and earth
with family, friends, and strangers for the sake of the glory of God (p. 5).”
Sabbath Growing Up
When I was growing up in Bear Creek, west of Houston, this is what life was like. I forgot. But I remembered as I read Allender’s words.
We lived far from everything. When we moved into our house in 1977, we were one of three houses in the middle of nothing but farm fields and pasture land.
On Sundays, we would wake up early to travel the almost 20 miles to our church. Our church was a singing church. We would relish worship, especially the singing and the Supper. We would spend another hour in the Word with our friends. Afterwards, we would run to the adult Bible class to see if anyone had announced they were pregnant (the way they announced was with Shipley donuts!).
On the thirty-minute ride home, we would discuss theology – my mom, dad, sister and me. We did all the hard yard and house work on Saturdays. Most Sundays, mom put on an entire crock-pot of chili-con-queso, then took a nap. Everybody would fend for themselves for the afternoon, dipping whatever they could find in the yumminess of queso! Once a month or so we would go out to eat with church friends for a long lunch at a BBQ or Tex-Mex place. I remember the year one of the moms went into labor right while we were standing in line to order our food!
After lunch, for a couple hours, we would each do what we absolutely loved to do. Dad would turn on an old John Wayne western or the football game and pull out the Sunday paper that he would inevitably end up snoring into. Me and my sister would play some game together, build a fort, swim, or ride our bikes. Sometimes I would paint or draw a picture. Sometimes I would set my army men and matchbox cars on fire with a magnifying glass. When Dad woke up from his paper reading, we would play together in the backyard tossing a ball or doing cannon balls into the pool or piddling in the flowerbeds. It was a pure time of games, wonder and creativity (and as we got older – a brief nap).
In the evenings, we would gather back together, sometimes having friends over for dinner, sometimes watching a family movie together, sometimes just catching up on life and telling old family stories.
I’m probably remembering it better than it actually was, but my memory of Sundays was one of pure bliss: family, good food, rest, play, laughter. It was good to remember that. I think it was an accurate foretaste of the feast to come. I’m so grateful this was part of my growing up. More than that, I’m grateful for God’s character of Sabbath – that He would give to us a day like this; a day full of wonder and delight.
I pray that He will give me the ability to keep it holy in a world that has lost wonder and delight, exchanging it for escape, consumption and busyness. I have to admit, I escape more than I delight.
Allender ends chapter one with this question:
“What would I do for a twenty-four-hour period of time
if the only criteria was to pursue my deepest joy (p.15)?”
Hmmmm. Good question.