If you’ve decided to keep the Sabbath with me, you might be finding right about now that this Sabbath Keeping experiment is harder than it looks. I have a theory about this.
Of all the commandments, this one really looks the easiest. In fact, you might even think of it initially as permission to take a vacation for one day a week.
No work? A day of rest? Sign me up…
The big surprise is that truly keeping the Sabbath takes great intentionality. Sort of like honoring you parents or not coveting, Sabbath keeping requires a different mindset. The Sabbath mindset takes significant effort – especially initially. Not much like a vacation at all, huh?
Why is it so difficult to take a day of rest?
For many of us, life has become a continuous cycle of work without rest. Setting aside a day to refuel and refocus sounds good in theory, but when it is time to practically do it, other activities can crowd out our good intentions.
Perhaps you’ve experienced this. You might say, “I’ll just take care of this one thing, then I can focus on this Sabbath!” The next thing you know, you’re day of rest is turning into just another day. I’ve been there, too. This is no good!
I have a trick up my sleeve to help you stick to your intentions: the Sabbath keeping box. Here is how it works.
First, decide on what activities you want to consider off-limits for your Sabbath. For me, things like finances, cleaning, and even calendar-tending and to-do lists can quickly rewire my mind from rest back to production, and they shouldn’t be a part of my Sabbath. The list is personal, so yours may be different than mine. Think about what tempts you to take action on your day of rest. The items that come to mind are meant for the box!
Once you’ve defined your list, find a box that will hold the key items associated with your list. For me, that would be a checkbook, basic cleaning supplies, and my calendar. You don’t have to box up everything on the list, but the symbolism of putting the items into the box helps you to remember that these items are not part of your Sabbath day. On Saturday night, pack up that box. Experience the freedom of leaving those items behind for a day.
It’s important to define clearly what you’ll exclude (and what you’ll include) on your weekly Sabbath. You know the old saying, “Fail to plan…plan to fail.” Simply making the list is a great start. The box is a “level 2” for your brain, if you have found (like me) that keeping the Sabbath is, in fact, harder than it looks.
Most importantly, stay the course! Change is difficult, so start with small steps. Choose one item to put in the box this week, and begin there. Next week, consider adding another item. Before you know it, you may be needing a bigger box!