Keeping the Sabbath Saved My Marriage, My Ministry, and Probably My Life

by A.J. Swoboda (Blessed Earth Pacific Northwest Director)

Nearly 10 years ago, as a college pastor at the University of Oregon, I toiled nearly 80 hours a week doing the “work of the Lord.” No boundaries. No rhythms. No intention. No rest. Every crisis was my crisis. Every complaint was my problem. Everything and everyone came to me. The long and short of it. I began to burn out. And I knew there was a problem when I started hoping I would burn out. Burnout offered a way out of all the insanity. Though I had never thought it possible, I was, in Paul’s words, beginning to “weary in doing good” (Gal. 6:9). The cost was high. I constantly got sick, my marriage was struggling, and my ministry became misery as I went frantically from crisis to crisis.

Flannery O’Connor has this little throwaway line where she speaks of a priest who is “unimaginative and overworked.” That was me. There was only one problem: The ministry was thriving. People were getting baptized. Students were repenting. The group was growing. It all came to a head one Saturday morning. After an 80-hour workweek, I scheduled an appointment with a student in our college ministry for 10:00 a.m. that Saturday morning. Having not slept well for over a month, I missed my appointment, not even hearing the sound of my alarm. I woke up to a voicemail on my phone: “How could you miss this appointment? Pastors shouldn’t miss appointments. You have failed me.”

I had become, in the words of Stanley Hauerwas, a “quivering mass of availability.” A need-filler. A gofer. A Christian handyman, available to everyone and everything but the Lord my God. Standing there, I nearly broke my flip phone over my knee and threw it against the wall. I had been working tirelessly only to let one more person down. I could not go on like I had been. By the sovereign grace of God, I had been reading a book by pastor and theologian Eugene Peterson. Through reading the book, I discovered something I had completely ignored in 10 years of Bible reading—this thing called the Sabbath. Peterson eloquently discussed how one day a week he would say no to ministry demands and go on hikes, eat good food, read poetry, and meet with God. I was intrigued. Was this not a waste of time? Was he not wasting his time on selfish endeavors? Then it clicked.

Up until this time, I had thought Sabbath-keeping was selfish. And I thought that if I did rest, it was a sign of weakness. Then I had the epiphany of a lifetime: I had been trying to be selfless. In helping everyone else, I had forgotten myself. I had become the preacher of the gospel who needed the gospel himself. Or, worse yet, I subconsciously thought God wanted me to forget about myself so I could serve others. But that is not the gospel. Jesus loves me too. I could love others only to the extent that I could recognize God’s love for me. I could see to the needs of my community only to the extent that I admitted my own needs. I could care for God’s people only to the extent that I would allow him to care for me. In forgetting all this, I had neglected to care for the body God had given me, the spirit he breathed into me, this soul that he molded with his own hand.

 A Commandment, Not a Suggestion

Wisdom prevailed. I admitted my own limits and embraced my finitude. It was one of the first “not goods” in my life where I recognized I had a deep, human, God-created need. In living for everyone else, I had been trying to be omnipotent and omnipresent; God had never intended me to be either. As I read the Gospels, it became clearer and clearer to me that Jesus himself was not selfless. Jesus went into the mountains and prayed to the point that even his disciples could not find him. Jesus ate. Jesus drank. Jesus slept. He took care of himself. And never once was Jesus hurried from place to place, controlled by a busy schedule. Jesus lived a rhythm completely different from anyone around him. The rhythm of his life was, in itself, a prophetic act against the rhythms of the world.

Sabbath rhythms are not meant for paper; they are meant to be practiced. “Holy days, rituals, liturgies—all are like musical notations which, in themselves,” one Jewish scholar writes, “cannot convey the nuances and textures of live performance.” We are not to know about the Sabbath. We are to know the Sabbath. In the years since starting to practice the Sabbath, my family and I have become avid, albeit imperfect, amateur Sabbath-keepers. One day a week, my family turns all the screens off, lights some candles, prays, and invites the God of the Sabbath to bring us rest. This practice, which, again, we do far from perfectly, has saved my marriage, my ministry, my faith, and, I might even say, my life. However, we have come to find that Sabbath never just happens. In our 24/7 world, I have never once seen someone accidentally keep a Sabbath. Sabbath is an action of great purpose, one that demands feisty intentionality. It requires us to live in a rhythm that squarely opposes the dangerous pulse and habits of our world. Sabbath-keeping is not just a small vignette in the Bible. Page after page, story after story, book after book, Sabbath comes to us. This is not a minor motif in the story of the Bible—it is one of the greatest themes of the Bible. Sabbath is not extra credit. It is a commandment, not a suggestion.

 Sabbath is God’s eternal way of helping us worship our good God and not worship the good work he has given us to do.

The Sabbath, Jacques Ellul contends, “shows that work is not after all so excellent or desirable a thing as people often tell us.” In other words, Sabbath provides work with a healthy framework within which good work can be done. The fourth commandment, we must remember, only prohibits us from work on Sabbath. Nothing else is prohibited. This simple act of not working revolutionizes our lives by re-centering our identity on being with God rather than on what we do for the world. Workaholism, in the end, is the result of our sense of self not fully coming into the light of Christ. Workaholism is very different from alcoholism—for the alcoholic, there is no slowly reintegrating alcohol after into your life after getting clean. Workaholism is different. For a workaholic, the issue becomes learning to live rightly in relationship to work. A workaholic will most likely have to get back to work.

The Idol of Exhaustion

As for my work, studies continue to reveal that pastoral burnout is connected to the pastor’s sense of being and worthiness. I became a workaholic chiefly because I had not allowed the grace of Jesus to reside in the depths of the caverns of my soul. I even used to think the Sabbath was a break from ministry. Now I see the Sabbath as ministry. It frees people. It helps others in the church. It establishes boundaries. And, above all, it proclaims the Good News of Jesus. As I read Peterson, one question came back to me over and over again: How can I preach salvation by grace when my life is built on an altar of workaholism?

In our culture, in place of a meaningful relationship with Jesus where we are defined by the Father’s love, we will continue to relish our overstuffed, busy lives. Busyness will be our trophy. More often than not, the only way we can truly feel good about our lives is if we are burning out doing it. We want scars to brag about. We have, as Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “made an idol of exhaustion. The only time we know we have done enough is when we’re running on empty and when the ones we love most are the ones we see least.” It seems this cultural mantra has been treated like a command from God, but God never asked us to work to the point of burnout.

We were not created just to work.

Work is not our Ultimate.

 

This article originally appeared in Christianity Today online.

New Resource: The Subversive Sabbath by A.J. Swoboda

I have the pleasure of announcing a new book by my friend and colleague, Dr. A.J. Swoboda.  A. J. directs our Blessed Earth operations in the Pacific Northwest. His book is called Subversive Sabbath.   For those of you have read my last book, 24/6, (and for those who haven’t), I highly recommend that you get ahold of A.J.’s book as soon as possible.  The timing of its launch could not be better, as it makes a great read leading up to Easter.
I was honored when A.J. asked me to author the foreword for Subversive Sabbath.  Here’s what I wrote:
As a physician, I’ve listened to thousands of hearts. During prenatal exams, I’ve heard the rapid swish-swishing of babies still in the womb.  Often, moms and dads burst into tears when they hear their child’s heart for the first time. I’ve smiled at the strange murmur those same thumb-sized hearts make when they are born into the great big world, fetal shunts closing of their own accord as the baby breathes independently for the first time. I’ve listened to the chests of three-year-old children as they inhale deeply–and then wonder if the man in the white coat can hear their thoughts through those tubes attached to his ears.
 
I’ve listened to athletes’ strong, slow hearts. I’ve heard asthmatic hearts pounding away in fear, and the muffled sounds of failing hearts. I’ve listened to the hearts of saints and murderers. I’m in the first generation of physicians to ever listen to the heart of one person after it has been transplanted into another.
 
Doctors and nurses listen to patients’ hearts using a stethoscope. Although this is convenient, it’s not necessary. In fact, the stethoscope wasn’t invented until a generation after our country became a nation. For thousands of years, physicians listened to heart sounds without the aid of a stethoscope. They simply laid their ear on the chest of their patients. Now, it is only children who lay their heads on the chest of their parents and listen to beating hearts.
 
My daughter used to love curling up in the big green chair by our fireplace in winter and falling asleep listening to my heartbeat. These days my children are grown. I’m still close to them and hug them every time I see them, but it is only my little granddaughter who’s falling asleep on my chest now…or so I thought. Recently, my son dropped by our house after a long shift at the hospital. He flopped on the couch next to me, and within a few minutes he was asleep, his head was resting on me. He was no longer a pediatrician at the university hospital; he was just my little boy, resting in his father’s arms.
 
I had just finished reading Subversive Sabbath, and I got to thinking about our exhausted world, laying our heads down, and hearing heart sounds. These thoughts led me to the thirteenth chapter of John’s Gospel–the setting of the Last Supper. The chapter begins with Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Later, Judas dashes off to betray Christ. The chapter ends with Jesus giving a new commandment to love one another.
 
But midway through, an extraordinary detail is recorded.  Here we see the portrait of a commercial fisherman with sunburned skin and callused hands. His name is John, and he’s a man’s man. Jesus calls him a “son of thunder.” Normally, John conveys an image of courage and strength, but at this moment he appears like a little child: “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples whom Jesus loved.”
 
There in the middle of the most extraordinary events in human history is a man listening to the heart of God. Don’t you wish you could lay your head down on the Maker of the universe and just listen to his heart? Don’t you wish that you could lay all your problems down for just a moment and rest on Jesus?
 
The heart of A.J. Swoboda’s book is that you can: starting next Sabbath, for twenty-four hours, you can lay your head on the chest of someone who loves you enough to die for you. Subversive Sabbath is an invitation to rest in the Lord.

The Sabbath commandment begins with an odd word; it tells us to “remember.”  Don’t forget how good it is to rest in the Lord, to be loved by the Lord, to hear His heart beat. A.J. Swoboda’s narrative is both a reminder to those who have forgotten and an instruction for those who have never known the peace of Sabbath rest. “Once you start,” Swoboda warns, “you cannot stop. It is profoundly life giving.”
 
Ultimately, however, reading about Sabbath is like looking at a picture of food. It will not fill you. It can only whet your appetite. You must finish the book, put it down, and actually do the Sabbath. You must get your life quiet enough one day out of the week to hear God’s heart.  Only then will you experience the counter-cultural joy of Shabbat shalom, Sabbath peace.
 
I have been blessed by years of friendship with A.J., and his latest book is the outflowing of a heart that loves the Lord.  I hope you, too, take the time to get to know him–and God–more through Subversive Sabbath (and don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon!).
by Matthew J. Sleeth

Do the headlines scare you? They shouldn’t, and here’s why.

by Matthew Sleeth

We live in a culture of fear. In fact, fear is a hot commodity. It sells.

The folks who have the most to gain from fear just happen to be the ones who market it. This may be individuals, but often it’s the media.

Nancy and I don’t have television at home, but I have no control over TVs in public places. There is no escaping them. Whether I want to or not, I’m forced to watch the news in airports and restaurants. And of course there’s plenty of news online. The threat level is always orange or red. Every hour of every day we hear up-to-the-minute news of mass shootings, scandal, stolen identities, impending nuclear threats, and a world in turmoil.

Fear is not all bad. It keeps us from going too near the edge of the cliff. It can lead to an appropriate amount of caution. It lets us know when to act and when to flee.

But living in constant fear is crippling to the human spirit. Fear feeds on itself, and it’s always hungry for more. Fear makes us uncomfortable, and for the most part, people like to avoid uncomfortable stimuli.

For many, escape is the answer. We run to diversions, including entertainment, food, drugs, and alcohol. We escape our lives by living someone else’s in the popular world of reality TV.

There is also an economic link between escape and fear. Many of the entities that market fear are in the entertainment business. This is known as creating your own market and demand. Politicians market fear as well. Mussolini, Hitler, and tyrants throughout history have banked on fear for their own benefit. They create a climate of fear and then present the means of escape: themselves.

You don’t have to read far into the Bible to come across a society based on fear. The book of Exodus documents a Pharaoh’s paranoid imaginings about an uprising of slaves, a war that might happen, and a reaction that could occur. I’m sure that the media back then endlessly hashed and rehashed the possibilities. Coifed, attractive journalists interviewed the former commander of the Pharaoh’s chariots while maps overlaid with possible invading armies flashed on the screen.

The problem with a culture of fear is that people grow used to the fear; as a result, those who are in the fear business must continually up the ante. As the scripture says, “And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.” (Ex 1:12 ESV)

So the Pharaoh upped the ante and said, “let’s kill the most helpless of all–the newborn babies.” Then one of the most beautiful things in the Bible takes place. Two courageous women dealt with fear in the way God wants all of us to. Their names were Beautiful and Splendid, or Shiprah and Puah in Hebrew.

How did these midwives act when confronted with a culture of fear? They lied to the Pharaoh to protect the babies. And you probably remember that “the Lord dealt well” with these two women. But what we may forget is how these women escaped the culture of fear. “But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.” (Gen 1:17 ESV).

The key: they feared God. Satan wants us to fear everything on earth–except God.

In Matthew 10 we find a record of Jesus sending his disciples out on their first mission. They had been with the Master up until that point, and it must have felt overwhelming for them to step out on their own. Jesus instructed these followers to find a worthy house, give greetings, and let their peace descend on the home (Matthew 10:13).

The implication is that disciples should have a peace that others do not. How? We must fear God, and nothing else.

Jesus warned them–and us–that life will not be easy. There will be persecutions and accusations. There will be wars and rumors of wars. We cannot expect a stress-free life when we follow Jesus.

Our Lord went on to explain that we should not fear men. Others can destroy our body, but ultimately only God has the power of granting eternal life or death (Matthew 10:28). Our souls rest in God’s hands alone. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). When we fear the Lord, all other fears shrink in size and become much more manageable.

Fear God alone, and you’ll find yourself with the courage to take down giants. I promise. But more importantly, God promises. This is God’s Word. And we believe it.

 

 

 

 

Playing Hooky Can Be a Good Thing

by Nancy Sleeth, Managing Director of Blessed Earth

For a long time, a visit to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest has been near the top of Matthew’s bucket list. Named after the WWI veteran who wrote the beloved poem “Trees,” it is one of the largest contiguous tracts of old growth forest in the Eastern United States. It encompasses trees that are over 400 years old and 20 feet in circumference standing 100 feet tall.

So, when I saw that we had a free afternoon during a three-day trip last month, I asked some friends if they’d like to join us for a hike. The forest was about 90 minutes from where we were staying. From the moment we got on the Foothills Parkway, every vista was an affirmation of God’s goodness–mountain overlooks, leaves just beginning to acknowledge the coming change in seasons, and streams interrupted by lively waterfalls.

It was midafternoon by the time we arrived. The four of us chatted while navigating the first half of the hike, pointing out especially large tree specimens to each other and marveling over the girth of the trees. It felt like we were exploring an outdoor cathedral. Walking in the presence of God’s oldest creatures made us feel both small and large at the same time–our lifespan fleeting, our responsibilities as God’s appointed caretakers great.

As soon as we ascended the second half of the figure-eight trail, other hikers became far fewer. We spotted two fallen trees and decided to rest. Our friend suggested that we begin in prayer and then sit in silence for five minutes. As we closed our eyes and listened, the wind picked up. For the first time in my life, I heard a wind approaching. Stronger and stronger, it gathered over the valley and ascended the mountainside. The leaves began ringing, almost like wind chimes. Our five minutes of silent contemplation stretched into ten, then fifteen. No one wanted it to end. The wind died down, and we opened our eyes. We had a long drive back, and a dinner meeting scheduled, so we headed back to the car, our ears still ringing with echoes of our sacred silence.

Over the course of the three-day conference, our friend Boyd Bailey, head of the National Christian Foundation in Georgia, led the morning devotions. Providentially, the topic he chose was silence. Boyd believes that silence is the language of God, and God expects us to be fluent in His language. While no one pats us on the back for being skilled in silence, learning to sit with the Lord in quiet grows our inner strength, sensitivity to the Spirit, and Kingdom perspective invaluably.

After Jesus fed the 5,000, he dismissed all but the twelve and then went to be silent with his Father. As many of us have learned the hard way, BUSY stands for Being Under Satan’s Yoke. Either we manage to have quiet in our lives, or the noise will manage us.

Our fifteen minutes of quiet in the Joyce Kilmer Forest reminds me of Psalm 1. God wants us to be like a tree, with deep roots that reach out for water and hold us firm. No matter what hurricanes or wildfires or floods come our way, we will stand fast in the Lord.

A Sabbath From the Headlines

On July 31, I made a decision: For the coming month, I would Sabbath from checking the news.

About a year ago, when the elections were heating up, I fell into the habit of checking three news sources each morning. One of the sources was on the conservative end of the spectrum, one liberal, and one moderate. It was interesting to me to see how the same event could be interpreted through such vastly different lenses.

As the race grew closer and closer, I began checking the headlines twice each day. Every time I thought the news was as crazy as it could get, it grew even more absurd. I told myself–and my husband–that this relatively new obsession was not affecting my emotional or spiritual life, but of course it was. How could such an influx of pessimism and hostility not darken my soul?

When I found myself checking the headlines not once, not twice, but three times a day, I knew I had crossed a line. Enough was enough! I asked for God’s help. Then I embarked on an August experiment.

Even without the angst of 24/7 news, August is usually a hard month for me. Twenty-two years ago, my brother drowned on August 19 in front of our kids. Nearly two decades later, my mom also died on August 19. August is also the month my daughter and mother shared the same birthday, so the entire month is filled with bittersweet memories.

For more than a decade, my family and I have abstained from news on our Sabbaths. It’s one of the many ways our Sabbath is made kadosh (holy), literally set apart. This weekly oasis from headlines always has a calming effect. Imagine what a month without getting swept up in the whirlwind of news could do for my soul?

It turns out, the experiment proved easier than I expected. And better. I assumed I would be tempted to take a peek. Who, besides God and Google, would know?

But I didn’t look (though occasionally I would ask Matthew if the world was still there….) The rewards were tangible and immediate. I have slept better, felt more rested, and worried less about things I have no control over this month than I have in a year.

On September 1, my news sabbatical officially ends. What have I learned? Sufficient unto today are today’s worries. Or, to paraphrase Matthew 6:34, don’t angst about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own trouble.

My sabbatical from daily news reminded me that the only lens that really matters is the Gospel. Jesus gave us the answer to today’s headlines and the angst they stir up in Matthew 6:33: Seek FIRST the King of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

When Sabbath Came to Church

Dr. Guy Brewer, Director, North Carolina Sabbath Living Initiative

(Guy offers this reflection on the Sabbath Living retreat held on Memorial Day weekend for pastors and clergy of AME Zion Beaufort District and UMC Sound District in North Carolina.)

“Everybody in church was your momma. It didn’t matter where you sat or who you were with. Those church ladies were all in cahoots! They had their eye on you and they would bless you out at the drop of a hat. If need be, they could give you that secret pew pinch, too, if you know what I mean. Dear Lord, I grew up with so many mommas!”

 That is how an AME Zion pastor described her memories of Sabbath from childhood. This recollection illustrates what it means to be a Sabbath community. In a Sabbath community, everybody is your momma; people take the term “church family” seriously. In such a community, folks’ lives are closely bound together. They love each other deeply, know each other well, and look out for each other as a mother cares for her own children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our experience at the Sabbath Living retreat over Memorial Day weekend was filled with deep love. The retreat began on Friday night with the celebration of a “love feast” in which community members served each other the bread of life and living water with the words, “God loves you and so do I.” What a moving scene. Old persons serving young persons. White folks serving black folks. Tough men with tears in their eyes hugging one another.

Across our three days together, we reflected on how we might live at the pace of grace, how we might make a space for grace in our lives, and how we might find our place of grace in the Body of Christ. As our time drew to a close, folks had the opportunity to come to the altar for anointing with oil. Every person in attendance—fifty-five people—came forward. It was a Holy Spirit moment, a time of healing, reconciliation, and empowerment.

It was hard to leave that place. In three days together, we had come to love one another. How could we say farewell? We joined hands, each person turned to the other, looked in their eyes and said, “God loves you and so do I.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

What the Bible Says About Enjoying your Weekend

*This article was originally published by Relevant Magazine.

I love my work. Like many Americans, I pride myself on a strong work ethic. But sometimes I feel like I’m working all the time.

Instantaneous communications, nonstop connectivity and the option of working from home are all great. But they can also make us feel like we are never fully working or fully resting.

For many of us, TGIF has lost its savor.

We take on second jobs to earn extra bucks, check emails throughout the weekend and use Sunday afternoon to run errands or catch up on work.

A dozen years ago, my husband and I started a creation care ministry. It’s allowed us to meet some of the most intelligent and loving people in the world. It’s offered us ample opportunities to travel. And it’s given us a platform to speak into both the churched and non-churched culture.

And while working with my husband is one of the greatest joys of my life, it also has a dark side: We can easily find ourselves talking shop late into the night and on weekends.

Like all good things, work can become twisted. When we look for our identity in our jobs rather than in God, we can lose sight of the relationships that matter most.

The Bible is filled with admonishments to the lazy. But what does it say to a culture that finds itself working 24/7? Does God want us to enjoy the weekends?

We have only to open the scriptures to find out:

EVERYTHING CREATED BY GOD IS GOOD.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5).

GOD DOES NOT WANT US TO WORK 24/7.

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat (Mark 6:30-31).

GOD INVENTED THE WEEKEND.

The creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.

And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation (Genesis 2:1-3).

REST. EVERY. WEEK.

God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them (Hebrews 4:1). 

EVERYONE DESERVES SOME DOWNTIME (INCLUDING IMMIGRANTS AND MINIMUM WAGE EARNERS).

You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy (Exodus 20:8-11).

EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY.

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13).

GET THE PARTY STARTED.

On the day of your gladness also, and at your appointed feasts and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings. They shall be a reminder of you before your God: I am the Lord your God” (Numbers 10:10).

SHARE THE JOY.

Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8: 10).

REFRESH YOURSELF IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul (Psalm 23: 2-3).

DON’T FILL YOUR MIND WITH GARBAGE.

[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8).

IT’S COOL TO COOL YOUR JETS.

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). Or the ancient Greek (Septuagint) version: “Have leisure and know that I am God.”

YOU DON’T NEED TO DO IT ALL YOURSELF.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Weekends have a purpose. They let us step back and appreciate the goodness of honest labor. They help us value every day on earth as an undeserved gift. And they put our toil into perspective, reminding us it’s God who keeps the world spinning—not us.

Yes, work hard. Yes, steward your time wisely. And then every Friday afternoon, shout with joy: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. (Psalm 118:24)

Or as that great oracle of my youth, Dr. Seuss, once said, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me NOW! It’s fun to have fun but you have to know how!”

 

Nancy Sleeth is the author of Almost Amish and co-founder of Blessed Earth. Recognized by Newsweek and Christianity Today as one of the “50 Evangelical Women to Watch,” lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband Matthew. For more Sabbath resources, visit sabbathliving.org.