This week is Sabbatical Week. In our Church calendar we tend to follow a monthly rhythm alternating our Lifegroup meetings with prayer groups and community week. When there’s a fifth Sunday in the month, it becomes an extra week in the church calendar and at St. Columba we’ve chosen to set it aside as a Sabbatical. The word Sabbatical comes from the Hebrew “Shabbat” (Sabbath) and literally means “ceasing” – stopping, resting. Resting can be hard work, or at least it can be hard work getting to a place of rest. Often it can be easier to simply carry on at the pace we’re accustomed to, keep the wheels turning and the plates spinning. Busyness becomes a badge we wear with pride, a norm and a tune we can’t help but dance to. To cease, to really rest, takes effort and intentionality; yet we dare not at our peril.
The Bible is clear in its mandate to rest. The principle of Sabbath rest isn’t just reserved for the pages of the Old Testament but is clearly modeled in the life of Jesus, not only for himself but for his disciples too. Why if Jesus and his disciples needed to rest, do we think we can manage without? Perhaps you’ve got this rest thing sorted, your weeks are balanced and you don’t feel the need for a “Sabbatical week.” If so, well done – but that’s not likely to be the case for the majority. Many of us know we’re not resting as we ought. Many of us likely need to put in that extra bit of effort to be intentional about slowing down and catching our breath.
Rest is for our benefit and may look different to each one of us depending on our age, stage and life circumstances. Just because our church has declared it Sabbatical week it doesn’t mean that business, work, studies, exams, deadlines, family demands etc. suddenly stop, they don’t of course. The challenge becomes to carve out rest within the norms and pressures of your week rather than despite them.
Why not spend some time and consider the things that refresh you, that enable you to feel renewed and that bit more energised and make the effort to weave them into your week.
You’ll know what works best for you depending on your circumstance and also your personality type, but here’s some ideas:
- Schedule time for your favourite activity (yes activity can be restful!); bike ride, walking, running, football, hill climbing, drawing, sewing, cooking, reading, gardening – you get the idea, those activities you enjoy and make you feel good.
- Spend time relaxing with friends, go for coffee, invite them round for a meal (even better, get a takeaway), if being among people is a way that you relax, then make those arrangements this week.
- Maybe solitude is more restful for you. Carve out a couple of hours where you can simply be alone with your thoughts. If a couple of hours not possible, why not find 15 minutes here and there or add a little bit extra onto your lunch breaks this week and take a walk round the block or read a few extra pages of that book.
- If possible, finish work a bit earlier – or at least don’t work any later.
- If you’re usually a bit of a slave to it then turn off the technology and have a digital detox! Watch less TV – or watch more of it if you don’t normally have time – you’ll know.
- Switch off the autopilot. So many of us fly from one activity to the other never noticing what’s going on around us. Slow down this week, enjoy the smell of your coffee, be mindful of your surroundings, don’t rush, smile at people and say hello.
- Invite God into your rest this week, He made you and knows you better than you know yourself. Seek His wisdom and His presence and most importantly take time to find rest in Him and His Word.