September 10, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines I: Sabbath

This will be a rather extensive series of short posts on what are Spiritual Disciplines. Disciplines when repeated and practice make us good at something, just like repeated practice and discipline at a sport or talent like playing a musical instrument. Addressing these disciplines one at a time like I will should help a person draw closer to Jesus Christ as we all should. When we are off base or out of kilter, these types of disciplines help restore a level of normalcy to a life in upheaval as my life has been lately. It just seemed like the right thing for me to do and as I do them I will post them for you to see. I will work through them in a question and answer format which will help address weaknesses. These topics that will be addressed are essentials for all disciples and those in discipleship. Without mastery of some sort over a majority of these will fall short at some point in their walk. Even with mastery of most of these topics...there are no guarantees.

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Although we are no longer required to observe the Sabbath in the strictest sense. A decent rest that centers on God can never be a bad thing. As such I have decided to note things that cause me not to take it easy on a Sunday when my family and I probably should.

Difficulties & Sinful Compulsions Inhibit Resting on The Sabbath

This one is easy to address. Making the answer stick is another issue altogether. The first compulsion is working and catching up on house work that gets neglected. As an adult with two children and a wife that is working to support a family while her husband pursues a Masters in piles up quickly. As anyone that owns a home can inform, if a home owner does not keep after a house's maintenance, it quickly falls into ruin...starting with the bathroom.

The other (if this can be considered labor) is the need to put thoughts to paper either for personal study, blog posts or both as they may be synonymous. This to me can become quite laborious but it is a labor of love. I am not just writing mental notes I am literally going back and forth between library and desk. Sometimes it is just pure meditation on God which on the Sabbath is not a bad thing. When it turns into a work that requires hours and involves moderate levels of frustration…I have to consider that I have violated what would’ve been considered the Sabbath.

The Sabbath Enhances My Enjoyment and Worship of God

Abraham J. Heschel once wrote in his book “The Sabbath”:

“The Sabbath teaches us that there is a holiness in and of time.”
If God created rest it was originally holy. Although affected by the Fall… how we now treat the time allows us to again bring the holiness back into the day by using it to revere God. As Heschel also said:

"The Sabbath is a sanctuary in time.”
It is also a chance to have sanctuary from sin. When one is resting it is harder to sin. Sin often is thought put into action. I one’s mind dwells on the holiness of God and rest or does not proceed to action. Less sin is perpetrated.

Six days a week I wrestle with the world, wringing productivity from life; on the Sabbath I need to care for the soul which needs to seek eternity. The Sabbath is my day to do that in my worship of the Holy One of Israel. The world has my labor, but my heart and soul belongs to Jesus Christ. Six days a week I end up serving the world, on the Sabbath I should relish and enjoy the love and grace God bestows on me.

The Sabbath Nourishes and Replenishes Me

This is connected to the previous statement. The Sabbath is the Holy of Holies in chronology. This makes time sacred and how I use (or don’t use) it is imperative. What I do in this time dictates whether or not I glorify God or defame Him as a Christian. Spiritually this is a strong arm of my form of worship. Some sing, some dance. I try to utilize the time to dwell on Christ and His work. Often I write about it. My pursuit of God tends to be more intellectual than emotional in this respect. As I give this worship to God I myself feel more complete. Though I do not always do this I try.

Disaster Befalls Me When I Do Not Rest In God

I become disjointed when I do not rest or come peacefully before God's throne. I tend to be much more irritable. I know exactly when and if I have gone over that unseen line too. I feel as if I have lost something or left it behind. Either way it’s missing. A joy that has been lost as I cannot revisit that particular Sabbath ever again. It is gone forever.

It is as David felt in the 92nd Psalm: “For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, LORD, how profound your thoughts!”

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