Passing the Peace: Rest Isn’t Just for the Weary

Sabbath is grace God provides to keep us from being enslaved.


3 minutes

May 31, 2023

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About 5 years ago, during an intense season in my life, God spoke to me: “David, you do great with not committing adultery, not killing, and not stealing, but keeping the Sabbath is also in my Top 10.”

Now if you know me at any level, you know that I throw myself wholeheartedly into my work. And Jesus’ words to his disciples that “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” resonates profoundly in my heart and mind.

But at that moment of God-given clarity, I was deeply convicted that I rarely ever ceased from my work, and that was a big deal to God.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

Matthew 11:28

God Rested
Sabbath is grace God provides to keep us from being enslaved.On the seventh day of creation God rested, and it wasn’t because of exhaustion. In God’s covenant to Noah, God promises to rest from judgment, so that more mercy is extended to humanity. On Mount Sinai when God is speaking to Moses and the people of Israel, the Sabbath is a sign of God’s covenant to people who were enslaved for multiple centuries.

Our culture of productivity and efficiency runs deep, and this chips away at our humanity. There’s a saying in business that “we measure what matters.” What are we valuing when our mindset is measuring what’s left on our to-do list, how many items we produced, or how many hours we billed?

In mandating Sabbath, God teaches us to value presence over productivity.

Sabbath isn’t just about stopping from our work, it is a call to holiness and wholeness. It is releasing our vice grip of control and remembering God’s presence in our work. It is responding to Jesus’ invitation, “Come to me, all you weary and burdened. Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

A quotation from St. Augustine of Hippo on a green background. “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.”

Sabbath in Community
Over the last two years, Arrabon has made a practice of integrating Sabbath rest into our organizational rhythm. As we plan out our ministry calendar, Hahna Kimbrough, our Chief Operations Officer, designates four weeks throughout the year to block off as “Rest and Restoration” weeks. During these weeks, Arrabon staff members put up away messages in their emails, clear their weeks from any meetings or projects, and turn off any work notifications on their phones. But the time is not meant to simply cease from work—Hahna thoughtfully engages our team with reading and listening material that points us to presence with God and the restoration of our souls, body, and relationships. 

This spiritual formation practice of rest and restoration as a ministry team reminds us that the work of reconciliation is God’s work and we act as partners, not sustainers, of the work. But in God’s mercy, it also refuels us to carry out the work for the long-term.

An Invitation to Journey with Us
As summer quickly comes upon us, I encourage you to take just one or two steps toward planning some Sabbath rhythms in your own life and in the lives of those you lead. Does a whole day each week seem out of reach? Start with one or two hours where you can practice presence over productivity—presence with God, with your own soul, with creation, with your loved ones. Practice presence in a meal without your phone or distractions, presence in laughter with a friend, presence with God in listening prayer. 

My encouragement is an invitation to progress, not perfection. We are stumbling our way to faithfulness in Sabbath-taking. Our team at Arrabon would be encouraged to hear what Sabbath looks like for you, whether you’re well-practiced in Sabbath-taking, or are just beginning to think about it. 

How do you rest from your work? What are some of the practices that you engage in to be present with God and yourself? What are the barriers for you in taking Sabbath? How has God met you in Sabbath-taking?

Written by David M. Bailey. Originally published in Arrabon’s email newsletter “Passing the Peace.” Sign up for our newsletter below.

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