26 June 2014

Heart and Home: Preparing for Sabbath

For part of my evening worships, I've been reading on a collection of topics from medical missionary work to Christian education to hospitality to the importance of daily Bible study.  The latest topic, 'The Observance of Sabbath", has my mind whirring with the ways Sabbath can be a much deeper experience for me.

I tend to work from to-do lists, it's easy for me to skip over things that don't lend themselves to getting checked off.  

For example, how does one really know when the heart is at peace, ready to rest in Jesus on the Sabbath?  Well, it's probably not when I'm frantically glancing back and forth from the clock to my list.  Yet at the same time, it's hard for me to take a deep breath if I'm still surrounded by all the visual evidences of things I didn't get done.

Thus I was especially encouraged to find in my recent reading a focus on both sides of the coin:  knowing what physical things really need to be done to create an atmosphere of peace (a list! yay!), as well as deeper heart things that can't always be quantified on a sheet of scratch paper to be crossed off after a quick sweep of a broom.

And the best part?  What I read felt doable.  Not overwhelming.  Not sloppy.  But practical, smooth, balanced, in my reach.

Which was all good news, because I found I really have some reorienting to do as I get ready for Sabbath this week.

Look Toward Sabbath all Week

It's hard to keep Sabbath free of the stress and craziness of the week if we aren't walking with God each day.  Yet more than that, we can take the opportunity each day to ask God to help us be ready for the Sabbath blessings He has to bestow.  

In particular, talking with our families about spiritual things during the week, singing together, and keeping a cheerful outlook throughout the week will set a sweet tone not only for the weekday grind, but also for the Sabbath. 

On a practical, list-making note, looking ahead to Sabbath during the week might mean we take a realistic look at how and when we do laundry, buy groceries, clean the house, and cook meals, so that none of these things will overwhelm a single day and so that there won't be last-minute pressure to rush through these things right before Sabbath.

Preparation Day for the Home

These goals feel easier to set for me, even though life often catches up with me, and I feel in a mad rush by the last hour before sunset on Fridays.  {Is that because I try to do too much, or just that I try to do too much of it in that last hour?  hmm...}
  • Clothes:  Church definitely doesn't need to be a fashion show, but have nice clothes ready for wearing to church the day before (or sooner, really).  That way, there's no fuss, no last-minute ironing, no digging through the laundry pile.  
  • Food:  We don't have to kill ourselves off to make a huge feast for Sabbath, but it is nice to have most of the prep work done ahead.  I'm learning more and more to just throw something simple in the crock pot, and I love having lunch essentially ready  to dish onto my plate when I walk in the door from church.  That does two things:  first, it feeds us at a reasonable lunch time, and second, it gets us out the door into nature sooner.
  • De-clutter:  Get all the school and work and secular stuff out of the way for Sabbath.  Organize the spaces.  If those distractions are out of sight, it's harder to spend the Sabbath thinking about them.

Preparation Day for the Heart

Ah, the heart.  Less quantifiable, less list-able.  And that equals less attention from someone like me.  Yet I deeply need my heart to be prepared for each Sabbath, unless I want to keep rushing into the day of God's delight in a frenzy without a full peace in my heart.
  • Do I have any unresolved conflicts?  What can I do to resolve them?
  • Am I keeping bitterness in a dark corner of my heart?
  • Have I humbly confessed my faults and asked forgiveness for them?  Have I prayed with someone I wronged, asking God to bless them?
  • Have I taken an inventory of my week, and honestly taken stock of whether I'm closer to Jesus by the end of the week, or further away from Him?
Just reviewing my highlighted book and typing out these words gives me pause.  I so much need this kind of heart work on a regular basis, and while it feels daunting, I greatly desire it.

{While I shared all these thoughts in my own words, because I need the reminders for my own heart, I'd be remiss not to direct you to my source, where you can find far more profound expression of all these thoughts and more:  White, Ellen G.  "The Observance of the Sabbath" in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pages 349-368.  For this post, I focused on the section of this chapter titled "Preparation for the Sabbath".}

1 comment:

Greetings, fellow climbers! Leave your marks on the steps--I'll be delighted to hear from you.