We have discussed the importance of choosing to cease and to rest as we celebrate the Sabbath. This week we are looking at choosing to embrace.
Dawn discusses a number of different aspects of what we embrace on the Sabbath. She starts with embracing intentionality. In embracing intentionality the emphasis is on the value of taking care of how we do what we do.
When we choose Sabbath-keeping we are choosing to be set apart, deliberately choosing to live our lives in response to God’s graciousness. Our values change, they must, otherwise we would continue choosing to work seven days a week, either at a job or around the house. We would be trusting in our abilities and accomplishments to help us make it through. But in ceasing and resting we see the reality of God’s sovereignty.
We must choose to put Him first, valuing Him above all, and trusting in His love and goodness to meet our needs. We have to stop depending on ourselves and our own resources, and find our all-in-all in the Lord.
Embracing intentionality means living deliberately, learning to be conscious of God’s grace, learning about who God created us to be as His people, and learning how we are to share who He is with others as we bear witness to the world. What choices will really reflect the reality of God’s grace to others? How are our choices leading to the deepening of our relationship with the Lord.
When every day is the same, busy and overwhelming, we often miss the evidence of God’s grace in our days. Keeping the Sabbath gives us a day to embrace the deliberate intentionality of seeing and knowing Him more.
On the Sabbath we can also choose to embrace the values of the Christian community. When we think of values we think of the things we choose as priorities. Our goal as believers is to live to accomplish God’s purposes. This means our priorities are different, or at least they should be different. Unfortunately sometimes they seem indistinguishable.
We can only learn what we as believers should value by looking at what God values. Some of the areas Dawn highlights are those of:
- living our lives out of God’s instructions and His authority.
- choosing to grow in intimacy with other believers as we fellowship together.
- worship, devotion, and prayer
- embracing others
We can see each one of these demonstrated in the life of Christ. He is our example as we seek to embrace our Christian community.
Jesus also embraced time instead of space. He didn’t have an agenda, He moved as the Spirit led Him.He wasn’t bound by rules, but rather chose to live out grace and love. He chose to touch lives as he healed, and as He released people from bondage. He looked at individuals and saw their needs and He made Himself available to them. It is too easy for us to get bogged down in “using our time to acquire and accomplish things.”
Another area of embracing on the Sabbath that Dawn discusses is that of giving instead of requiring. She writes about how society has “turned our major holy days into commercialized holidays, days of ‘gimme’ instead of special times of adoration and worship.”
Even now at Easter we see stores filled with chocolate eggs, marshmallow chicks, furry bunnies, and a rainbow of baskets to collect all of our goodies in. So we get distracted by societies emphasis in getting more when instead as a Christian community we can choose to practice “giving rather than accumulating.” How can you choose to be generous? Who are the needy in your life? Not necessarily needy financially or materially, what about the lonely? Who could you have over for coffee, or stop by to visit? These are all options for ways of embracing giving.
We can choose to touch others lives on the Sabbath also by giving gifts, baking a sweet treat to share, writing a letter, knitting or crocheting something, there are so many possibilities.
Dawn says, “To keep the Sabbath is to focus on the immensity of God’s gifts to us, especially the priceless gift of salvation. We can respond in no other way then to want to give in similar fashion. “Christ’s love compels us…” (2 Cor. 5:14a).
We may also choose to make the Sabbath a day of counting our many God-given blessings; taking time to recognize the goodness of the Lord to us in our lives. But it seems that it is much easier to find reason to grumble and complain.
As Christians we called to share the love of God, and on the Sabbath choose to embrace our calling. In making this choice, we can fully depend on the Lord to equip us to fulfill His purposes. As we seek Him on the Sabbath and bask in His goodness and His love we are filled to overflowing with His grace. And it is by His grace that we are led to live out His purpose embracing His calling.
Lastly, Dawn speaks of embracing wholeness on the Sabbath. Our lives become fragmented and compartmentalized as we are pulled in so many different directions every day of the week. But when we choose to celebrate Sabbath we find God as our center. And “when God is at the center” we are given “the ability to weave together all the bits and pieces of our lives.”
When we choose to embrace wholeness we consider both the wholeness of the Christian community and the wholeness of ourselves as an individual. We think about deepening relationships, about what brings joy to a heart, and we think in terms of how we can learn more about who God is.
I am choosing to embrace intentionality on the Sabbath by taking time to nap or find quiet rest time in the afternoon. I also am intentional about journaling.
I am embracing the values of Christian community by attending my church service and enjoying a time of fellowship following the service. In the past I would go to church and then run off to get to the next thing on my to-do list. I am appreciating my dear church family in new ways for new reasons.
I am slowly learning to embrace time by taking the time to embrace people in their neediness, to really look and see, and listen, and then to respond with Christ-like love. This means slowing down, and being present, and being available. It means setting side my agenda for another.
I am embracing giving as I learn to embrace my calling to be sharing God’s love by following the Spirit’s nudges to encourage and to minister in grace to others. There is overlap in many of these. My ministering in grace may be seeing a special gift and sending it to a sick relative, offering to spend time with a friend who is alone, or shopping for a shut-in.
Finally, as I consider embracing wholeness, it is about keeping the Lord at the center of my life so that my choices emulate God’s love and draw people into deeper intimacy. I am choosing to be real and authentic in sharing about life and God’s truth for me. I am trying to learn to scatter joy like confetti, even if it is only in little ways, a bag of candy, a phone call, or an unexpected card sent in the mail. And in all of life I am learning more about Who God is, because in His goodness He continually draws me back to Himself. He restores me and leads me to wholeness when I am broken and empty. It all cones back to setting aside the time to know the Lord more and find ways to live out His love.
The Sabbath is a time to choose to embrace. Tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday. It is because of the cross, the crucifixion, and the resurrection, that we truly can rest. Apart from what Jesus has done, we have no hope for rest. So as you celebrate Christ’s resurrection remember that Sabbath is for ceasing, resting, and embracing. Next week we will look at choosing to feast.
I wish you a blessed Easter.