Sabbath or Shabbat starts for me at sundown tonight. A couple of weeks ago I wrote this out on a Shabbat morning and am prompted to share it here.
My dishes from supper last night sit stacked on the kitchen counter awaiting their washing. The laundry that cycled late yesterday afternoon remains in the dryer. My computer, laptop, and cell phone are shut down. It is Shabbat.
It is 4:30 a.m. I too sit quiet wrapped in a blanket for warmth against the teen temperatures outside. Stillness – a gift to be treasured in our noisy, blaring world. Stillness—a space rarely entered by many.
For some, it cannot be found except in minuscule moments. The cities that never sleep pump out noise 24/7 with traffic, garbage collectors, street sweepers, and sirens. Stillness, silence is something dreamed of, but impossible to find in some settings.
Others, however, feed on sound. There are TVs that must run through the night with flashing images in order for one to sleep. Sound machines of waves, wind, rain or possibly an electric fan that blows regardless of the season. Homes filled with music, video games, raucous sports scenes blasting from TV screens. Silence, true silence, never makes the list of choices.
While none of these scenarios may apply to us, what about our inner reality? What about the dialogue and screens in our minds that never stop? Always planning, trying to figure out solutions, replaying conversations, events—the noise inside out heads rolls on unhindered.
But God says, “Be still and know that I am God. Look to Me. Trust in Me. Take time to be with Me.”
Shabbat is a time for stillness, rest, shutting down the noise and tuning into God alone. Thanking Him for His presence, His care. A time to trust Him to hold our cares and keep our world functioning until we can join Him again. Cares and worries are not permitted on Shabbat. Work and labor are for other times.
It’s time to let go and let God. Surrender, rest, and renew. Take time to look up at the clouds, the sky. Breathe in the fragrance of wet earth or warm sand, the neighborhood deli or the clean cold air of winter. It’s time to turn down the noise and listen to the wind, the bird calls, a distant train. Drink in your surroundings and let them nourish your soul.
If you can’t get outside, if the place you find yourself in is harsh and empty of nourishing elements, close your eyes and remember places of serenity and times of joy from days gone by. Ask God to bring them to remembrance.
Jeremiah 50:6 is an interesting verse that caught my eye this Shabbat: My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray. They have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill. They have forgotten their resting place.
Doesn’t this often depict our lives of non-stop running from mountain to hill and back again and never stopping to find our resting place?
Sabbath was made for man. God knew rest needed to be part of our weekly cycle of life in order to stay in sync with Him and to have peace in our souls. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b) The fulness of life includes times of rest, times of drawing apart. Jesus did it and so can we.
I encourage you to take some time, even 15 minutes, turn off all the noise and tell the Lord, “Father, I’m just going to sit here with You awhile and rest. I am going to make You my focus and let everything else go.” This conscious effort to stop and focus on Him will make a difference in your day. It’s a place to start.