A Sabbath Rest without Guilt

I admit it. Every time I hear a word about taking a Sabbath rest I get guilted, because I usually catch up on household and ministry work on Sundays. And I get stressed, trying to figure out how I’m going get everything done in 6 days, when I can’t get everything done as it is in 7 days. Right, take a day off. Sure, I’ll just do that.

But God is showing me I’m thinking about it wrong. Entering God’s rest, like Hebrews 3 and 4 talk about, comes from intimacy. He’s showing me to think about it like date night.

We have a word in our culture for someone who won’t stop working to spend time with their beloved spouse – Work-a-holic. We all pity those spouses, and have no respect for the work-a-holic. I’d tell a work-a-holic something like this: Get a life, dude! Neither you nor your work are that important. You’re sacrificing what’s more important, your beloved spouse and your marriage, for what’s less important, your work. You’re sacrificing the eternal for the temporal!

But am I a spiritual work-a-holic? Am I sacrificing the eternal for the temporal? (Yes, our ministries are temporal. Our relationship with Jesus is eternal. Remember Matthew 7:22-23.) Am I sacrificing what’s important, time with my beloved Jesus, for what’s less important, my ministry?

At near total mental and physical exhaustion, God’s been forcing me to at least slow down on Sundays. I’ve taken some off completely, and am working more and more toward that. I’ve been amazed that my tasks are still there waiting for me on Monday – none of them have spontaneously self-combusted. No one’s had to call out the National Guard because my unsupervised tasks were running amok and taking over the country-side.

My wife and I make weekly date nights a priority, as well as quarterly weekend get-aways to B&Bs, because our relationship is important to us. We realize if we don’t prioritize it, we’ll lose it.

God’s showing me taking a Sabbath rest is like that. He’s showing me I get guilted and stressed over it because I’ve lost my first love. Wow. That’s a situation we who love his intimacy never want to be in, so we it hide from ourselves. I guess I’ve gotten good at that, unfortunately. But fortunately, he loves me enough to not be satisfied with left-overs. Personally, I’m looking forward to this change in my thinking and seeing where it goes.

Action Step: I’m looking forward to Sundays, and intentionally resting, doing as little household and ministry work as possible. Catch a nap in the afternoons, and do things I enjoy, like reading. I’m going to think about it like date-night with him.

I’ll post an update in a few months and let you know how it’s going. But what about you? Do you take a Sabbath rest? Or do you get guilted and stressed over it like I do? What’s your Sabbath story? Tell us in the comments, or shoot us an email. And please share on Facebook or your favorite social media channel (just click the button below) if you think this would bless others.

2 replies
  1. Randi
    Randi says:

    Hi Dave! I know what you mean about resisting the Sunday rest. A long time ago, I dated a Brazilian who was adamant about his “lazy Sunday,” and I thought it would be impossible for me to implement because I was “just too busy.” But just as you realized….it really can be done! It saved my mental health in grad school and saves my spiritual life now.

    This is an important subject, as small as it seems. Our culture is in dire need of rediscovering the Sunday rest.

    • Dave Wernli
      Dave Wernli says:

      Well said, Randi! I think our culture has forgotten how to practice two important sacraments — the Sabbath and the other is Solitude. We’re all the worse for it and we’re desperately trying to get back their benefits in other ways, and it’s just not working. It still amazes me how much more productive I am the rest of the week when I rest on Sunday.


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