I suck at Sabbath.
For those of you who know me, you’re rolling your eyes.
I’m well-known for ranting on Sabbath rest. How we should take God seriously when He instructed us to stop.
University student—I took breaks during the biggest assignments. YWAM staff— I disappeared on Sundays afternoons. Church volunteer—I’d take half of Saturday off.
Oh, I thought I was so good at Sabbath.
Or, as I like to call it, “forced Sabbath”.
Before March, I was doing a 40+ work week with YWAM. Saturdays I caught up with chores and to-do lists. Then kids church fortnightly, which meant arriving at 8:15am, serving for an hour or so, church, socialising—and home after halfway through the afternoon, leaving little time for this writer-artist to create anything.
With no church (or, church social life) on Sundays—I realised how much time I had poured into something good, but completely failed at Sabbath.
I resolved to change.
For several weeks (or months?), we didn’t have in-person church here in New Zealand, and I was preparing to move to the States. I finished up with YWAM, started a job at a preschool, and decided to stay in our (relatively) Covid-free country. Sundays were free—but it was way easier to fill them with coffee hang-outs and Netflix binges.
A month in, I started crashing—immune system faltering, multiple sick days, going slightly insane—and I blamed it on my new job. Yes, I was exhausted, and yes, two-year-olds are nuts. But that wasn’t the problem.
So I finally decided to read a book.
Well, not just any book. My brother Daniel had recommended The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer months ago, but it took some intervention (birthday money) for me to not feel guilty about buying a book (which is ridiculous, for a writer).
So I began.
“If you’re new to the Sabbath, a question to give shape to your practice is this: What could I do for 24 hours that would fill my soul with a deep, throbbing joy?”
I hated how hard it was for me to answer.
John Mark Comer remarked how we’re unaccustomed to thinking like this. Deep, throbbing joy? We quote Jesus healing on the Sabbath, but we forget—“the Sabbath was made for man”. For you.
And as I read how much John Mark Comer loves his Sabbath, how purposeful he is in crafting it, and how his family looks forward to it every week, I realised—I have no idea what I’m doing.
I mean, I used to. But it’s so easy to slip. To start slotting into everyone else’s schedules that your forget you have control over your own.
So as I finally sit here writing this, on a picnic blanket in my backyard, blue sky above, listening to the Many Beautiful Things soundtrack by Sleeping At Last—I’m starting to get it.
I am not a machine.
I am a creative, living, breathing human who gets tired and can’t run forever. I mean, for goodness sake, even my phone needs charging. Can’t I give my soul the same grace?
I still suck at Sabbath. It takes a lot of practice to rest well.
So, I keep practising.
I ask myself that hard question, often.
What could you do for one day that would fill your soul with deep, throbbing joy?
Start with that.