Honor the Sabbath

I’m really trying to get into the idea of making rest of part of my day. In fact, making rest of part of my life would be a good idea. Just like with the mental health days that I schedule at work, if I schedule in time to rest then it won’t have to sneak up on me and force me to rest.

In yoga there is always at the end of a practice the corpse pose. It is 10 or 15 minutes of just laying there and receiving everything that is happened to you. Mozart says that the music is the space between the notes. Rest isn’t a new idea, space isn’t a bad thing. It is rest and space and time off that gives shape and meaning to everything else.

I have a new devotional that I’m using. It incorporates rest into it. Every seven days it has a time of reflection. On the seventh day you’re supposed to think about all the things that you’ve learned the week before from that devotional. You are supposed to reflect on all that that God has shared with you in those past six days. I feel very fortunate that I happened to start reading this devotional on a Sunday, so that means that the seventh day is Saturday. While I am not Jewish, I am trying to incorporate the Jewish idea of the Sabbath being Saturday into my religious life. By not doing some of my routine on Saturday mornings now, it means that they are a lot more peaceful and restful.

I have to be at work every other Saturday at 8:30 in the morning. This is earlier by 30 minutes than any other time I have to be at work. By taking out my devotional time and turning it into reflection time, I actually have a little more rest on Saturday morning.

I’ve also decided that I can skip putting out a blog post on the Sabbath. While I don’t want to get in the habit of skipping I also don’t want to be worn out by this. It’s important for me to remember that I am not being paid to produce this blog. And also the Sabbath ends at sundown. When I get off of work on Saturday I can write a post if I want, therefore I have still fulfilled my goal of posting one thing every day. That way I am obedient to God and to my own desire to observe the Sabbath at the same time.

There is something very freeing about seeing rest as a commandment. It means I’m not goofing off or not being a good steward of my time. If God says I have to rest, then I’m not being mindless with my life. I’m doing what is best and healthy for my body, mind, and spirit.

Out of trouble comes freedom.

Genesis 50:15-21 (ASV)
15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, It may be that Joseph will hate us, and will fully requite us all the evil which we did unto him. 16 And they sent a message unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, 17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the transgression of thy brethren, and their sin, for that they did unto thee evil. And now, we pray thee, forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. 18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we are thy servants. 19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 And as for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

Many years earlier, Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. He was their father’s favorite child, even though he was the youngest. He was the only son of their father’s favorite wife – the one he’d had to work seven extra years to be allowed to marry. To say the relationship was unhealthy between them is an understatement.

While he was in Egypt, having been essentially kidnapped after being left for dead, he prospered because the Lord was with him. Then, his boss’ wife wanted him, and he refused her. She set him up, and he was put in jail. He stayed there for two years.

All of this was unjust. He had done nothing to deserve any of this. Yet he didn’t complain. He kept being faithful to God.

Because of all the unfair things that had happened to him, he was in the right place to literally save all Egypt, and all of Israel. Not just his family, but all their descendants. If his family had died in that famine, Abraham’s family line would have been lost.

Everything has to happen in this order for him to be on the right place at the right time. He was there to advise the Pharoah how to save up grain so that nobody would starve. God gave him the wisdom to interpret Pharoah’s dream.

A lot of bad happened, and he doesn’t focus on it. He sees the good that came from it.

His brothers came to him, afraid that he would punish them. They made up a story that their father wanted him to forgive them, yet Joseph didn’t even need that lie. Joseph didn’t need to forgive them – he wasn’t even upset with them. He knew that what happened was meant to happen, and it was for the good.

Let’s look again at the final lines.

Genesis 50:20-21

20 And as for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

He knew that they meant evil for him, yet he also knew that God meant it for good. He didn’t blame them, or get angry at God for all that he had suffered. He fed them, comforted them, and spoke kindly to them.

Are we that forgiving? Are we that patient during trials and tribulations? Are we that willing to suffer a little to gain a lot?

I have a feeling that the amount of trial you go through is proportionate to the amount of blessing you are going to receive. But the only way to get that blessing is to trust in God and give thanks constantly.

We have to trust that God is in charge and is directing our path, even if it doesn’t make sense, even if it is hard. I’ve found that the best way to stay in that state of trusting in God is to make the effort to always give thanks.

Create a gratitude list. Write down everything that are going well. Start with simple things. Running water is good. Hot water. A house. Food to eat. Your health. A job. Instead of thinking “Things could be better”, remember that “Things could be worse.” So be thankful for the little things.

Look at what Jesus says in Luke 16:10 –

“He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.”

Learn prayers of thanks from your own faith tradition and from others. Write your own, or create them on the spot. Constantly giving thanks frees us from feeling oppressed or harassed. We look at all our blessings rather than our shortcomings. We see all that we have, instead of all that we think we should have.

May you be blessed this coming week through your practice of thankfulness, knowing that God is working through your difficulties.