Learning that Sabbath isn’t a day but a person

by Jaime Riefer

It feels like we are always making excuses to not rest. We talk about sabbath as a lifestyle rather than a day off. We stand on our soap boxes explaining that Jesus was the Lord of the Sabbath; sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for sabbath. As people of freedom we are not bound by the constraints of forced and required do-nothingness. We do not abide by laws that take away our freedom to cross items off of our to-do lists. We are people with faith strong enough to withstand whatever our schedules require; we only need a Sunday afternoon nap, a little late night television, and on the really hectic weeks: God will sustain us.

We are busy. We have so many obligations. And every one of them important. Really important. We are sleeping less and working more. We are constantly in contact with everyone. We are inundated with news stories, personal stories—all giving us something else to do, to think, to feel. We are tired. I am tired.

I recently left a position in full-time ministry. I was wildly in love with Jesus, i was privileged to serve where I was serving; I was happy. And I was tired. One of my superiors had a habit of becoming indignant when I would assert my right, and requirement, to take a break. I would free up my time to go and listen to the waves praising the Lord. I joined a gym to disconnect with the world and reconnect with me and Jesus. These times were not only mocked but often stripped. It was not because my superiors were trying to be malicious but because they were perpetuating a system they had been a part of for so long.

Now I teach at a preschool. I am still wildly in love with Jesus. I deeply miss those with whom I once served. I am still happy. And I am tired. I am the kind of tired you get when you chase 20 four-year-olds all day. The kind of tired where you put your feet up and watch an episode or two of NCIS while munching some popcorn before bed. The in-bed-by-10-asleep-by-11 kind of tired. I am no longer the soul weary tired so easily overwhelmed by the days insurmountable tasks, being pulled in every direction by multiple crises. It’s not because I changed jobs. There was nothing wrong with what I was doing—it was the way I was doing it.

rest by the lake

I spend my days trying to educate little ones, reaching milestones, holding up a state standards. I am responsible for parent-teacher conferences and evaluations. I am their introduction to school and set them on a path of learning for the rest of their lives. No stress there!

There are many non-negotiables in my schedule but there are days when we stop and search for leaves changing color. There are days when we dig for worms and visit some local chickens. We slow down and taste apples and berries. We dance and sing and shake instruments. We stretch our bodies and breathe deep. Because that is what life is about. That is where sabbath rest lives.

Sabbath is no longer a day of the week, but a person. A person who calls you to taste and see that He is good. A person who promises rest to those He loves.

So shake off the pressure to do and go and do nothing. Go look for changing leaves. Dig for worms. Visit some chickens. Catch up on NCIS. Stretch your body. Breathe deep.

Jaime is a preschool teacher with degrees in sociology and counseling. She has a passion for Christ and to live life fully–while dragging others a long with her. While she loves to write, the majority of her writing can be found scribbled on scrap paper or packed in the lunch boxes of those she loves. You can follow Jaime on Twitter.

One Comment

  1. Annie said:

    Wow, I love how you reframed the Sabbath. As a mom of two little kids, taking a rest is hard. Sometimes I want a break from my constant real life. But that’s not what Jesus is promising, is he? Thanks for this – I needed it!

    September 29, 2016
    Reply

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