By Lindsay Hufford
Friday afternoons are a flurry of activity at my house. I chip away at a mountain of laundry as my kids gather Legos and Littlest Pet Shop figures, putting them away in baskets and drawers. We work as a team to tidy up a house that never seems to be completely clean, a pitfall of homeschooling.
Friday afternoons are special because we are preparing for our Sabbath. Our family has been observing a Sabbath off and on for a few years, and last January we made a recommitment to make rest a priority each week. A Sabbath is a day of rest, modeled by God on the seventh day of creation and first observed by the Israelites as part of the Ten Commandments God gave Moses on Mount Sinai.
God’s command to make time for rest should catch our attention. He knew we’d forget that he created rhythms of work and rest for our benefit, not as a hindrance. God commands rest to highlight its importance.
Americans today have more leisure time than ever before. We have gone from growing or hunting what we eat to grocery shopping online, home delivery included. We shop for clothes at Target instead of cutting and sewing fabric. Technologies streamline many of our daily tasks at work and home.
Even with all this leisure time, burnout is prevalent. We are stressed and exhausted, yet we fill our leisure time with activity and noise instead of stillness and silence. Newton’s first law of motion tells us an object in motion remains in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. We have become objects perpetually moving from one activity to the next, and it is affecting our mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Observing the Sabbath is a spiritual discipline, requiring dedication and investment. To ensure we keep Sabbath each week, our family schedules it like other important appointments. We also work harder the other six days of the week so we can let the work of our home go for a day without feeling overwhelmed or guilty looking at chores left undone when we are trying to rest.
Sabbath is sacred, but it does not have to be formal or fancy. Pete Scazerro, pastor and author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, says in observing Sabbath we stop, rest, delight, and contemplate. Our family begins our Sabbath on Friday evenings. As soon as my husband gets home from work, we pack our swimsuits and head to a local indoor pool. We float in the lazy river, squeal down the waterslide, and the adults take turns heading to the sauna for a few minutes of warmth and quiet.
After everyone has had his or her fill of the water, we head home for a simple dinner. Whether it’s take-out pizza, pancakes, or leftovers, we light a candle and pray before the meal. Our candle stays lit even during the daylight hours of our Sabbath, a visual reminder to slow down and contemplate God. Sabbath extends into Saturday with prayer, quiet time, reading aloud, staying in our pajamas until noon or later, simple devotions with the kids, talks over coffee and tea. We end our Sabbath by attending Saturday evening services at our church. It seems fitting to close our Sabbath worshiping the one who designed rest.
Dedicating an entire day to rest is countercultural. Like any other discipline, it takes work, practice, and trial and error. But when we take a day to rest, we acknowledge God’s commands are more important than a spotless house or a packed schedule. I’ve learned obedience to God is rarely easy or comfortable, but it is always beneficial.
Lindsay is a happy wife and homeschooling mom to three kids. Whether she is reading, running, gardening, teaching, cooking, dancing, writing, or chasing hens, she counts it all as joy. Lindsay writes about this beautiful life at searchforthesimple.com.
Photograph © Marco Ceschi, used with permission