Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Grace and the Sabbath

I reached a point last week where I felt legitimately OVERWHELMED for the first time during this ministry internship. Even though the tasks and thoughts on my plate were good and beneficial, spiritual work for me, it was finally TOO MUCH! So, a prompt discussion with my mom about delegation followed, and the next day and several phone calls later, my heart is much lightened. Boiling down the extensive talk we had and all the thoughts that ensued, I am left with this token to share: Delegation is necessary and benefits everyone.(Not to mention the fact that it appears throughout Scripture.) It keeps the delegator aware of his or her own limitations and helps him or her see the potential in others to take on responsibilities. It lifts up those who need to be put to work by providing them the opportunity to meet needs, and it distributes the load so that those who have needs can get them met by people who have the energy to devote to meeting them. More energy and more love to go around. YAY.

Delegation is only one aspect of the personal discovery for the week, though. I read one morning about the principle of the Sabbath in a chapter of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, by Ronald J. Sider, which argues that applying the principle in our lives will go a long way in helping Christians stand against the draws of materialism, therefore allowing us to better serve the needs of those who are poor and needy. It cites Deuteronomy 5:12-15, which reads as follows:
Be careful to dedicate the Sabbath day, as the LORD your God has commanded you. You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or donkey, any of your livestock, or the foreigner who lives within your gates, so that your male and female slaves may rest as you do. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

Not till reading this chapter and thinking about what I'd just learned regarding my own limitations and delegation did the connection in the passage between slavery and the Sabbath become clear. God commands the Israelites to stop their work in order to remember that it was not by their work that they were brought out of slavery.  The Sabbath was to remind them weekly of God's grace to them and of his power in their lives, of their dependence upon him. Who am I to think my story is any different? I have been freed from my slavery to my sin by the mighty hand of God alone- not by my own work. So, if my best work, my hardest work, cannot save myself, why am I so easily deceived into thinking that by running myself ragged I can save others? I have put too much dependence on my own abilities. 
Out of the chapter, this sentence challenges my thinking the most: "IT DOES NOT MATTER that for a whole day we fail to produce good things or even do good kingdom work." I had to read this a couple times because my first reaction is to think, "Yes it does matter! We are always to be working for the Lord. What about, "Never grow weary in doing good but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord?"  But after pausing for a minute (and there's the key-- PAUSING) the truth that work and rest are not at all mutually exclusive sunk in. He continues: "We are finite. Arrogantly thinking we must do it all is blasphemy. Just resting our bodies, enjoying our families, and praising our God is enough for one day out of seven."

One other personal insight to add before closing this entry: I have seen this past week how, in my exhaustion, I am SO much more likely to think and act selfishly. Yuck. For the sake of my own spirituality and for that of all the people I influence, it is wisest that I practice the principle of the Sabbath and, in addition, increase my discipline pertaining to bed times and scheduling. Ah, the joys of learning oneself...But, on a happy note, the joys of learning God are truly wonderful. Though this week revealed so much of my pride and selfishness, it has been one of the most spiritually refreshing I've had in quite a while. :)

So there it is-- grace and the Sabbath-- and my best intent to see them more and more as one- as they are. And I ask you all to please hold me to this intention as we help one another.

In parting,

"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matt. 11:28


  1. Amen, Katie. I believe this is one of the most difficult lessons for 21st C. people and, therefore, one of the most important. It has been for me a lesson that must be learned over and over again throughout my life.
    Thanks for sharing your insights. The passage from Deuteronomy helped to broaden my perspective on "busyness."

  2. I agree with Lisa. I often feel guilty if I'm not constantly doing "something"; like it's wrong to relax. Thanks for sharing this and making me think!