One of my favorite articles I have tucked away tells the story of the small town of Ridgewood, New Jersey. Apparently, the parents of the town discovered that they were not spending enough quality time with their families because they were over-scheduling their children.
After a series of meetings with community leaders and school officials to discuss the dilemma they came up with a very simple plan. One night in the year would be declared family night and everyone was encouraged to set aside their agendas and do nothing but relax with their families. The school board of Ridgewood agreed not to assign any homework for that night. The town sports council cancelled all athletic practices and churches cancelled all programs and meetings.
Now I find all of this interesting and intriguing. But what happened next is even more interesting. It seems that as the designated day approached the stress level in many families increased. Why? Because they did not know how to use the evening. It was such a new and unusual event, that they didn’t know what to do if they weren’t racing to this practice, or participating in that event.
It really is a commentary on our North American culture. We no longer know how to stop, to cease, to be and not do. Which is a shame, because God in his grace has given us a day in which we can do that very thing, it’s called the Sabbath (a Hebrew word which simply means to stop, to cease from work and activity). We will be studying the origins of the Sabbath Genesis 2:2,3 and God’s command to keep the Sabbath in Exodus 20:8-11 on Sunday morning. But today, I want you think of how the Sabbath is a gift from God to you.
In Exodus 16:29 God says to his people, “The Lord has given you the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is a gift. The problem of course, is that we often think of the Sabbath as an interruption to avoid rather than a gift. But Scripture tells us that the seventh day is not a nuisance, it is rather a gift from God designed for you to rest. Why would you see it other than a gift? If your boss came up to you and said, “You’ve been working really hard and I want you to take tomorrow off.” What would you say?
“Never! I have to come in to work.”?
Well, here is the God of the universe giving you days off. One commentator says that God gives us 52 days off – which, if added up, is seven and half weeks vacation! Thomas Aquinas called the Sabbath a day of vacation with God.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful? A vacation with God. My friends, do you need to evaluate how you are using the gift of the Sabbath that God has given you? Are you spending it with delight worshipping God and knowing God’s provision for you in Jesus Christ? Or has the Sabbath become another day for you to achieve and to grasp at the things of this world?
May you know the truth that the Sabbath is a gift for you to receive from the living God who has provided for your every need in Jesus Christ.
In thanksgiving for you, Tom.