As many children did, I learned the Ten Commandments in Sunday school. When we talked about keeping the Sabbath holy, I pictured bearded old men lying on dirt floors in hut-like houses, staring at their thatched ceilings and doing nothing all day.
I don’t think those mental images were at all historically accurate, but it wasn’t until college that I realized my perception of the Sabbath in general was also flawed.
Last year, I found myself controlled by a calendar of filled squares. I also found myself avoiding God’s continual tug on my heart to give up a whole day to honor him. I thought the Sabbath did not apply to me: I was a full-time college student, involved at my church and sorority, volunteered regularly, and Sing season was fast approaching — I had no time to waste.
I was above it.
God was quick to correct me. I finally paid attention to my convictions and decided to practice the Sabbath for the duration of Lent.
The first Sunday was rough. I did not feel rested at all. I sat and stared at the wall as reminders of responsibilities for the upcoming week crept into my thoughts. However, with each week, I found a rhythm. I would wake up, go to church, eat lunch with a friend, and spend the afternoon on the rooftop of Dichotomy, reading a Jane Austen book or my Bible. Later, I would watch a movie or get coffee with someone I hadn’t made time for that week.
I had always thought my schedule too packed and precious to be tampered with by an outdated practice. However, as gave up my Sundays to God, I learned my excuses were foolish.
“I’m too busy.” If you identify with this, likely the most common excuse, consider you are not wrong. I will not tell you that your current schedule will permit a whole day of rest. The problem with this excuse is not that it is false, but it indicates an unwillingness to sacrifice the right things. Your schedule on any given day is probably full; however, we cannot ignore the fact that we get to choose what fills it.
The Sabbath is not for us to do nothing. It is for us to slow down and acknowledge God. We don’t know what we’re missing until we seek it.
Just like the other commandments God gives us, the Sabbath is not intended to be a punishment, but rather, a gift. When we give up a day to honor God, we have to let go of things. We might actually not finish an assignment. But we rid ourselves of the anxiety that comes with the belief we are in control. As we let go of that control, we gain responsibility. We take leadership of our lives and responsibility for the way we spend our time.
Sabbath days force us to prioritize God. If I told a friend she was the most important part of my life but continually failed to make time for her, I would be lying. It’s no different with God. Practicing the Sabbath forces us to prioritize God with our time and actions.
Even as college students, we are still human, and we need rest. God rested on the seventh day of creation — If he is not above rest, we surely are not.
Give up a day of your week to gain peace of mind and reorder your priorities. Pray and play. Watch a football game instead of doing your laundry. Bask in God’s goodness, and remember there is more to life than what is due next week.