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The Life-Giving Gift of Sabbath

Written by Chuck Olson

July 2014 – We were dialed in at the local Thai bistro, paralleling the world-renown Colorado Boulevard, enjoying our Panang chicken curry. Following some family updates, our conversation quickly moved from checking in on the events of our lives to the state of our hearts. The question we were asking each other, in view of the demands of life and leadership, was how do we keep our hearts full. Like a gas tank in a Chevy Tahoe, how do you keep your heart topped-off?

As we vetted the question, our answers overlapped.

As if reading from the same script, each of us started talking about the importance, make that the indispensability, of Sabbath—the spiritual practice of devoting a day out of the week to God for the purpose of rest, renewal, and relationship. I like to think about Sabbath as that exceptional day of the week where things that you’ve “got to do” give way to things you “get to do”.

Following our alfresco lunch, I continued to reflect on the life-giving gift of Sabbath. First, I considered my own journey in the pursuit of this spiritual practice. But before long, I found myself chasing down the insights and perspectives of those who have come to understand, embrace, and most of all, inspire my thinking about the place and priority of Sabbath.

Allow me to walk you through their thoughts.

  • What is Sabbath?

Sabbath provides for us now an additional rhythm for an entire reorientation of our lives around the living God. On Sabbaths we imitate God by stopping our work and resting.
–Peter Scazzero

The Exodus command, with its call to imitation, plays on a hidden irony: we mimic God in order to remember we’re not God. In fact, that is a good definition of Sabbath: imitating God so that we stop trying to be God. We mirror divine behavior only to freshly discover our human limitations.
—Mark Buchanan

Sabbath is not the break we’re allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfillment of all our obligations. It’s the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could.
—Mark Buchanan

  • Why is Sabbath important?

Sabbath keeping is the linchpin of a life lived in sync with the rhythms that God himself built into our world, and yet it is the discipline that seems hardest for us to live.
—Ruth Haley Barton

God instituted Sabbath to give people rest, which involves more dimensions that just physical relief. In biblical terms the day is designed to disrupt life’s usual routines to allow people the opportunity to remember and to reflect.
—Reggie McNeal

If my private world is in order, it will be because I have chosen to press Sabbath peace into the rush and routine of my daily life in order to find the rest God prescribed for Himself and all of humanity.
—Gordon MacDonald

  • What does Sabbath involve?

In this practice of Sabbath we debrief our decisions, our attitudes, our relationships, our leadership, our goals, our achievements, and our challenges.
—Reggie NcNeal

What do we do to replace all we are now stopping during our Sabbath time? The answer is simple: whatever delights and replenishes you.
–Peter Scazzero

  • How to think about Sabbath

A Sabbath heart sanctifies time. This is not a ritual. It’s a perspective. And it’s not a shift in circumstances—you still have the same job tomorrow, the same problems with your aging parents or wayward children, the same battle looming in the church. But you make a deliberate choice to shift point of view, to come at your circumstances from a fresh angle and with greater depth of field. You choose to see your life otherwise, through a different lens, from a different standpoint, with a different mind-set.
—Mark Buchanan

The math is simple: The more you pursue Sabbath, the more you realize it is an extraordinary gift—given by the One who not only provided it, but practiced it.

What does a day of Sabbath look life for you?

Join the conversation. Post your comments below.

Chuck Olson

As founder and president of Lead With Your Life, Dr. Chuck Olson is passionate about inspiring, resourcing and equipping Kingdom leaders to lead from the inside out.  To lead, not with the external shell of positions, achievements or titles, but from an internal commitment to a deep, abiding and transparent relationship with Jesus. Serving as a pastor and leadership coach for over forty years, Chuck has a track record of building these truths deep into the lives of both ministry and marketplace leaders.

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