I love Mondays. It’s the day I pop out of bed, to-do list in hand, and scurry around the house and office, putting away the weekend, organizing what’s ahead. It’s a beautiful thing really, even when the mountain of what-needs-to-be-done far outweighs what’s already been checked-off.
It’s not always been that way though. I used to not only dread the day-to-day of everyday, but especially the start of the week. Waking up to be greeted by what had to be done was sometimes overwhelming. Pulling the covers over my head was all I wanted to do. But it wasn’t just when there was work to be done. It trickled into even having fun. Taking time away from what I thought I had to do, countered by the crushing weight of guilt, of I what I thought I should do, topped off by if I don’t step in, who will, sometimes was just too much. No matter how burdensome those thoughts were, they stoked in me a flame of pride. At the same time, the slavery to them, created exhaustion. Having barely anything left to give, the good intentions of compassion and grace were lost.
But something magnificent has begun. Sabbath rest. Spoken of in the Bible, first in the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses, and then by Jesus Himself when in Matthew 12:8, He tells the Pharisees that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. It’s clear that the Sabbath was meant to give us rest—physical, emotional, and spiritual. In me, it began to take shape in my heart—under the radar, as God so often works—in small, but simultaneous ways.
Jerry and I go to early church on Sunday mornings. The service ending at 9:30, leaves the whole rest of the day wide open for possibilities. Working outside! Cleaning the house!! Projects, projects, projects!!! Wonderful, wonderful hours of accomplishments, of getting things done. That was, until one Sunday, Jerry announced, he really thought we should rest because that is what the Bible teaches. At first I didn’t receive that too well. Whether it was something my mama who worked all the time taught me by example, or because work for me is a sort of therapy—there’s hardly anything more wonderful than the satisfaction of a reorganized closet—this was something I wrinkled my nose at in protest.
I don’t know exactly how it came about—if it was because of an acquiescence to Jerry’s request to rest or that I was exhausted by the activities of the weeks before—but gradually a change of attitude occurred. Snuggling up on the sofa, falling asleep while reading a good book, or spending time with family eating what we affectionately call Sunday sandwiches, is now part of the norm. Resting on the Sabbath is something I gladly welcome.
In previous blogs, I referenced how I am a recovering fixer-upper. Not like the wonderful show starring Chip and Joanna Gaines where they rescue dilapidated houses on the cusp of no return, but that person who always had a solution for someone else’s problems. Solicited or not, I could chime in at any given moment ready to save whatever needed saving. When the Lord began to change my heart and I realized this was not my job, for myself or others, I began to find life much less draining. Rather than stepping into another’s business, I would feel the nudge to pray instead. As I let go and let the Lord take over, I began to experience emotional rest as I watched God, not me, soften hearts, heal wounds, and bring longed-for restoration.
Finally, Sabbath rest is not something we do. It’s something God does within us and can only happen when we put our trust in Jesus. I love the illustration I heard years ago about what it means to really believe.
You believe the plush, cushy, oversized living room chair sitting across the room from you will hold you if you sit in it. But not until you walk across that room and sit down—putting your full weight, trusting the chair will not collapse under you—are you truly believing.*
In the same way, when we trust in Jesus to save us, that’s when true belief happens. William Barclay in his book, The Letters of John and Jude (The Daily Bible Study), gives a thorough explanation.
“The Bible speaks of the man who “believes in the Son of God.” There is a wide difference between believing a man and believing in a man. If we believe a man, we do no more than accept the fact that whatever statement he may be making at the moment is true. All that we are saying is that in a particular case we believe he is telling the truth. If we believe in a man, we accept the whole man and all that he stands for in complete confidence and trust. We would not only be prepared to trust his spoken word; we would also be prepared to trust ourselves and our life to him. To believe in Jesus Christ is not simply to accept what He says is true; it is to commit all life into His hands and into His direction; it is to place ourselves in His hands in time and in eternity.”¹
The Sabbath is a gift from God. In a world that seems to be spinning faster and faster with all of us hurrying, hurrying, hurrying, for what, I truly don’t know, it is good to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. (See Exodus 20:8.) “For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day.” Exodus 20:8 MSG
I invite you to join me. Ask the Lord to change you and bring you into His Sabbath rest. Then, when Mondays come, maybe they won’t seem so bad anymore.
*This illustration, similar to the one used in the book by Richard Peace, Learning To Love God, page 18, is one I heard while attending a Bible study.
¹The Letters of John and Jude (The Daily Study Bible ), translated and interpreted by William Barclay; Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press; Philadelphia: The Westminster Press; 1961; p. 133 as quoted in Learning to Love God by Richard Peace. Learning To Love God ( Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968), 19.