“People who cannot find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.” ~ John Wanamaker
John Wanamaker was no stranger to initiative, work ethic and a busy life. At the time of his death in 1922, the self-made philanthropist had amassed a $100million fortune. In today’s economy, he would have been a billionaire. Mr. Wanamaker was no fool. He understood that a busy life of hard work required regular rest. Being a man of faith, he would have likely known about a commanded rest – the Sabbath.
“Work six days. The seventh day is a Sabbath, a day of total and complete rest, a sacred assembly. Don’t do any work. Wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to God.” (Leviticus 23:3 MSG)
The Hebrew word for Sabbath is Shabbat. It comes from a root meaning to cease, to end, or to rest.
There you have it. God intended for us to take one day a week, every week, to rest, enjoy our lives and reset. Sabbath carries the connotation of ceasing from our work, from our normal pace – stopping completely. The Jews in Israel take it very seriously. From Friday sundown to Saturday sundown everything shuts down. You better not need any last minute something from the store or gas in your car. Forget going out to eat, too. It’s just not going to happen. It’s the Sabbath, after all.
They mean it.
Recently in the Washington Post, Daniela Deane described the modern Sabbath like this:
“Shabbat’s spirit is essentially joyful. It’s a day of rest, and freedom from everyday responsibilities. An oasis of calm to spend with family and close friends. A day to get dressed up, eat well (under Jewish law, every Jew must eat three meals on the Sabbath), take a nap, have sex with your spouse, go for a walk, play with the kids. Strolling and playing are encouraged.”
A very experienced minister, Jewish scholar and friend of ours has said that missing Sabbaths is detrimental to the health of our bodies. The lack of rest over time can cause you to become weak, opening the door for illness. You could find yourself flat on your back, unable to leave home. At that point, your only option is to rest. She calls these recovery times “forced Sabbaths.”
Your body will get its rest one way or another.
It’s better to rest God’s way.
It’s better to have regular Sabbaths. God intended for you to have 52 of them each year. Are you taking them? You need them more than you could possibly know.
You really should take a Sabbath this weekend. Plan it now. Set it aside.
Enjoy your rest.