Do you feel like you never stop chasing the Sabbath? Do you often feel so close to reaching a time of rest, prayer, and conversation with the Lord only to realize the finish line moved 10 steps ahead? Unexpected situations occur such as a sick child, broken pipe, friend in need, or feeling of inadequacy that set you in motion again chasing a future time of solace with the Lord that you promise you will keep. The busy rhythm of life takes the place of deep intimacy with the Lord.
One of the first assignments I have clients complete when I coach them is to list all their responsibilities. As they fill up a page, they simultaneously add worry, regret, and hopelessness. Their demeanor sinks more when I hand them a list my life coach instructor and mentor, Dr. Katie Brazelton, compiled addressing 221 responsibilities in 15 areas of life.
However, I encourage them to see that life does not have to feel so heavy and overwhelming. Jesus assured us in Matthew 11:30, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” God provided an example by resting on the seventh day after he created the earth and everything in it. God gave the blessing of Sabbath on the seventh day to the Israelites in Exodus 20:8. As awesome as a day of rest sounds, there is another day to enter his rest. Today.
The Sabbath of Today
The promise of rest continues to be offered in the New Covenant, which Hebrews 8:6 explains “is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.” Hebrews 4:1, 7 says, “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it . . . God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today.’. . . ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’”
People try to attain rest in different ways. They take vacations, get massages, and fill their time with relaxing activities. Don’t misunderstand. None of these is wrong, but they are temporary and, if allowed, can drown out God’s voice. God wants us to have more than just moments of rest. He wants us to experience a lifestyle of rest.
Six Strategies to Create a Sabbath Lifestyle
In our culture and society, Sabbath seems to be an elusive word that is either unattainable, irrelevant, or irrational. The fast-paced rhythm of life is many people’s daily reality until their head hits the pillow, too exhausted to engage in a relationship with the Lord.
Benjamin Franklin said, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” Have you set your mind to entering into the rest God provides daily? With the right mindset, it can be a lifestyle instead of something you enter into and out of like the spa. Be intentional, set goals, make a plan, and create strategies to reach the target.
Here are six practical strategies to enter both earthly rest and spiritual rest simultaneously to stay in tune with God’s rhythm every day.
1. Think of others today.
Philippians 2:3, 4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vein conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking for your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” Freeing yourself of selfishness creates rest. Are you constantly chasing the next best wrinkle cream, tech toy, automobile, or venue for a birthday party? When you get it, it is already out of date and the hunt begins again. Practice focusing on service instead. Make your lifestyle a contribution to the welfare of others. Hunter S. Thompson said, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”
2. Be immovable today.
There is a definite rhythm to the life God created that cannot be resisted. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says there is a time for every season and activity: birth and death; planting and uprooting; killing and healing; tearing down and rebuilding; weeping and laughing; mourning and dancing; searching and giving up; love and hate; war and peace. Some try to defy aging. Some allow death to shake their faith. Some resist healing from the actions of others. When you constantly defy God’s rhythm, you have no rest for your mind. It is like trying to stop the rain or keep a woman from giving birth. It can’t happen. Become immovable instead. Realize God helps you withstand all the seasons of life. You don’t need to prevent them. Instead of trying to fit God’s plan into your life, fit your life into God’s plan.
3. Release the desire for validation today.
Rejection and disapproval cause self-doubt and depression resulting in paralysis on one hand and a fierce desire to “prove them wrong’ on the other. Never being satisfied triggers the brain to constantly think up a defense or validation. Stop your brain’s constant battle. Relish in what God says about you instead. You are the apple of his eye and his treasured possession. Rest in his promises only and delete the naysayers to quiet your mind.
4. Stop planning your way today.
Does your mind thrive on lists, deadlines, schedules, and order? Planning is not a bad characteristic, but inflexibility leaves no room for input from the Holy Spirit. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). Too much planning makes you blind to needs around you. Believe that God knows what you need before you ask. You may be the answer to someone’s prayer if you can find flexibility in your schedule.
5. Forgive today.
Holding a grudge takes effort, time, and imagination. Immersing yourself in thoughts about an offense uses up precious time. Extra weight is placed on your heart that controls your thoughts, plans, and actions. You may not even realize it. Forgive instead. Lift the weight. Rest your mind from the never-ending torment of unforgiveness. Give your cares to the Lord “who daily bears our burdens” (Psalm 68:19).
6. Pray and study today.
When you squeeze a bottle of ketchup, what do you expect to come out? When you spill coffee, you won’t clean up orange juice. What sloshes out when you are hit with rude people, slander from “friends,” or a bill you can’t pay? What you immerse your heart and mind in is what oozes out in difficult situations. Evaluate the books you read, the friends that influence you, the music you listen to, the amount of social media you drown in, and the community of believers you are plugged into. Immerse yourself in God’s Word instead.
Even when we daily enter the rest God promises, it does not negate the fact that we live with responsibilities. Our kids have to eat, we must fix a broken water pump, and we must take care of elderly parents. We are still busy people with many burdens, hangups, and worries. Discovering how to put your mind at rest by creating a Sabbath lifestyle today can bring you peace as you journey through this messy life. So, don’t chase Sabbath. Walk hand-in-hand with it until you can immerse yourself in the advantages.
Erin E. McEndree is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping women understand, accept, and share their God-anointed purpose. Erin is passionate about helping women steep in the healing, contentment, and joy that come from biblical principles.