Restless Rest and the Rest of the Sabbath Instruction

Thinking and writing here in community with Shelly and the Surrendering to Sabbath Sisterhood…

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Sunday I woke up writing. Not with pen or keyboard. I labored busy and hard in my head, working out words, rearranging paragraphs. On my Rest-Day morning!

Why, all of a sudden? My writing had hung slack all week!

Alas, I think that’s the reason!

When God brought His people out from Egypt’s bondage, He gave them a weekly Sabbath law that prescribed not just rest, but also work:

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work…” sits right in there with “but the seventh day… you shall do no work” (Ex 20:8-11).

One of my problems with weekend Sabbath? Weeklong neglect!

Of course it’s “duh” obvious: If I wait to think about Sunday’s needs till the day’s upon me, I won’t be prepared!

But another truth hits me about myself and Sabbath: Any procrastinated project of the week tends to come back and haunt me on Sunday, echoing loud through the settle-down stillness!

So there’s serious work to do the rest of the week! And serious planning ahead. Let me think more about this…

What specific Sabbath morning difficulties have plagued my past? Wrinkles impressed deep in husband’s shirt, revelation that the dress I’m about to put on displays one big stain! Inability to find someone’s socks… or shoes—or my Bible or my Sunday school notes for teaching! Car a mud-covered disgrace, made by cats dancing merry all over it with carefully soiled feet. The chicken for dinner forgotten in the freezer, frozen rock solid. And so on. You get the (chaotic, knit-browed) picture.

That’s the biggest misery maker. But rest is also made restless when I’ve lollygagged my way through any of the regular week’s work before that, even my writing, even if I wasn’t really thinking of that as work.  Any daily duty. Suddenly at rest on Sunday, I get the urge to do what I neglected all week. If there’s a Monday deadline (especially Monday morning), the frantic inner fussing can disquiet to a distraction very hard to still.

It’s called Put-It-Off (sometimes seasoned with perfectionism, incongruous as that might seem)—and Pay-Later!

The more I think about this, the more crucial need I see to think ahead about the coming Sabbath, starting right in the week’s beginning. I need to map out my workaday week, starting with Sabbath as my destination, moving backward mentally from there—and then do what needs to be done before then.

I refuse to accept blame for still cluttered chaos I didn’t cause and didn’t have time to correct. Sickness, catastrophes, and children’s joyful-noisy debris of scattered exuberance happen, plans can suddenly change. So I’m not talking perfection of clean or an overburdening expectations list. I’m looking at laxity, neglect, lack of ongoing intentionality that allows distractions to yank me every which way—all summed up as poor use of time. That’s what needs to change, be it bit by bit, as every other good self-change has happened in the past.

For me, these thoughts bring new meaning to “Make every effort to enter that rest” (Heb 4:11 NIV)!

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8 thoughts on “Restless Rest and the Rest of the Sabbath Instruction

  1. preparing to rest. thought provoking. procrastination, things undone do contribute to the noise, the unrest in our minds/souls…even on a daily basis how much easier we fall asleep when our work is done.

  2. Yep, Laurie, that’s right. I find the things I put off grow, not in actual size, but in my head, and make me weary before I’ve even “gotten around to” them! How pitiful to have such stuff intruding into time meant for rest and recuperation! Working on this, bit by bit.
    Joy to you today!

  3. As much as I try not to procrastinate I still avoid things and justify them in my head… It doesn’t work… God does call us to be organized and purposeful. A needed reminder…

  4. Very helpful post. How often to observe Sabbath rest *all* week, when I should be working busily? And yes, procastrination is the twin curse of perfection. What I am finding, in my perfectionistic, petrifying stupor is that when I truly rest in Him, I still work, but not perfectionistically. I ask Him to work *through* me, and I also lay down perfectionism, knowing that He, alone, is perfect. I rest, complete, in Him.

  5. Being the perfectionist that I am, I had meant, “How often do I observe Sabbath rest all week……” and “procastination is the twin curse of perfectionism…”
    Actually, just wanting to be sure my meaning was understood. =]

  6. Yes, avoidance. I know that word, Floyd. Have lived it. Synonym for procrastination? Or do I think I’ll get out of the unpleasant duty all together? (No, “it doesn’t work”!)

  7. I got your meaning, Lynn. I like what you said about rest in its deeper sense. Trying to do perfectly can paralyze, but you gave the remedy–to this, and every other kind of fear: “I ask Him to work *through* me, and I also lay down perfectionism, knowing that He, alone, is perfect. I rest, complete, in Him.” (You got one step ahead of something I say in the next post about how powerful this can be.)

  8. Well, I certainly look forward to your elaboration of and refinement of this point. I need to hear it (and *do* it!)

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