Shhhh....it is a secret, so you cannot tell anyone. Did you know you were meant to be found?
God is looking for you.
When The Hiding Started
Genesis 3 is the first place we see God looking for His children. Adam and Eve had done what God had asked them not to do. They knew they were wrong, and they were afraid, so they hid. But why were they fearful? God did not send down a lightning bolt immediately after they sinned. The earth did not open up and swallow the tree of knowledge. God simply walked among the garden during the daylight to spend time with them.
Fear comes from so many places, and almost always relates to "what ifs." Fear comes from within us. This is what happened here in this story. The God who was their world, their Creator and Sustainer, was now "the other" and an authority figure to be feared and so Adam and Eve separated themselves from God.
This story helps lay the foundation for the following commandment from God:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20: 8-11 (ESV)
The consequences for Adam and Eve's sin were many, including going from a land where everything was provided to a place where they would have to toil to sustain themselves. And as such, they would need rest and, more importantly, dedicated and intentional time to focus on and connect with God. Sabbath holiness is one of the 6 Spiritual Habits we need to follow for a deep relationship with God.
Sabbath as a Covenant
Sabbath is covenant. A covenant is a binding promises between two people to reach a mutual goal. It is based on relationship and personal knowledge. Ezekiel 20:12 says, "I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them."
Sabbath is means of honoring, God, others, and ourselves. If we call ourselves Christians, we cannot pick and choose which commandments to follow and which to throw out and expect our lives to turn out great. Step up to the plate and do what you need to do. If you have no intention of following the commands, then walk away and please stop using the name Christian because your life will reflect your decision to ignore God. The rest of us don't need the bad rap.
If you think I am being harsh, I am not. Jesus was very clear on this in the New Testament. Jesus even reprimanded the religious leaders who took the commands too far. These men made life miserable for many by creating thousands (yes, I said thousands) of laws to ensure the ten were kept. That was nuts and Jesus gave them the smack down. God gave us just 10 Commandments, not 5.2 million commandments, hence why they are called the 10 Commandments. Honestly, just follow them. Now I understand, life happens, and bosses can be difficult, we will get there in a bit.
Why we struggle with Sabbath
Every individual is different and what one struggles with another may not. Below are some reasons Sabbath keeps rubbing people the wrong way.
1. Authority. We do not like having someone tell us what to do.
2. We have a scarcity mentality when it comes to our time.
3. Our children.
4. Our children's sports.
6. The world's message that Sabbath is irrelevant, Sunday Funday is where it is at.
Take time to ponder each of the above statements. Where does your struggle come from? Take this struggle to God today. Be honest. Share what is going on and ask for God's help to make a change.
For me, it is work. I expect the start of every fall semester to be rough. Every college professor knows and understands this. And no matter how prepared I am, even the few times I have had all of my ducks in a row so it should theoretically be easy, something blows up...every year. For 3 or so years, I worked on getting my Fall online classes prepped and finalized in May. And, by the start of the fall semester, all of my work would disappear. Finally, my husband said to me, "This happens every year. Stop trying to prep ahead of time." Duh. So, I stopped. Now I do everything at the last minute, but I do not become enraged that all of my work went out the window. My family knows. Mid-August to mid-September it best to stay away and let me be, I have more work than time during this period.
I would be remiss if I did not talk about Sunday Funday. The national replacement for Sabbath. As of the time I write this, if you were to search for this hashtag on Instagram, it has over 60 million hits. While Sabbath has 887K. No wonder our world is in the state it is.
I wondered when did Sunday holiness become Sunday Funday. The earliest I could find was a song from the Bangles, "Manic Monday." They sing,"I wish it were Sunday, my fun day." The year 1986. The phrase seems to have appeared on the internet in 2011. There was a t.v. show by this name too. And it keeps growing in its power to lure people away from the real Truth. Restaurants, bars, blogs, and magazine articles promote it as a day to drink you cares away, generally starting at 10 a.m. Other articles say Sunday is the perfect time to find singles. Too many times in these articles they say, "why be lazy when you can have fun." Thanks, but no thanks. Sabbath is not about laziness; it is about holiness.
Sunday = Fun, simply misses the point. Sunday Funday is the world's pale attempt at rest, at reconnection, and for relationship. With Sunday Funday, the enemy has subtly switched the focus away from God. So simple and yet so effective, this red herring.
Steps to Prepare for Sabbath
1. Plan your Sabbath day. Pick a day of the week that works with your job schedule.
2. Verses in Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19 discuss using the day before to prepare for the Sabbath. In other words, take the time to get tasks done so you will not feel the burden of them pressing upon you on your Sabbath day.
3. Be truly present on the Sabbath. Be mindful and set intentions for the day that draw you closer to God and to your family. My family goes to church. We come home and eat. My husband takes a nap, my son plays video games, and I like to paint. We eat dinner and then usually watch a movie.
Be flexible. Work chaos may throw a wrench on your Sabbath. Kids get sick, pipes burst, or something urgent and important arises. God knows your intentions and the way our world works. And Jesus made it clear the Sabbath is for our benefit and we are not to be slaves to it.
What if you have to work?
The steps for preparing for Sabbath apply here as well. However, I realize some people have to work 7 days a week to support their family or employers change work schedules often and mess up a Saturday or Sunday Sabbath. If you cannot take a day off where you can go to church, do not fret. I have college students who go to school full-time and work, they have no full days off. Can you take a half a day? You can watch a church service online (even if it is not live) and then relax and spend time with friends and family. If you cannot take a half-day, then take a couple of hours in a row that you make your sacred time where you connect with God and rest.
Once again, God knows your heart. Do not be burdened. Just be flexible and faithful. And pray God would open doors for your work/life situation to change. Or, as some people I know have done, request Saturdays or Sundays off because you want to attend church.
We Cannot Hide from God
Like the boy in the picture above, we think if we cannot see God, He cannot see us. Hiding takes on all sorts of forms and if we run away from God, His commands, His Word, and His church. Why do we think this? A child, who leaves the nest or runs away is never forgotten by the parents. Not ever.
No matter how hard we try, we cannot hide from God. One more time, since we are all thickheaded: we cannot hide from God. Though we think we can, God still stands at the door of our hiding places waiting to be let in. Just open the dog gone door. Open the door and let the burdens, fears, sins, and sorrows exit, while God enters. Just like with Adam and Eve, God is not going to send a lightning bolt or break down our doors, He will call to us, but it is up to us to answer.
If you struggle with the idea that God is not present with you then read and/or memorize the following verses:
Jeremiah 23:24: "Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. (ESV)
Psalm 139:7-13: Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
Of course, you cannot do Sabbath Holiness justice if you do not have a church home. I know this is not a popular sentiment, even among some clergy and social media Jesus influencers. There is no way around it. You can read my last blog,"Why we really need each other. Two simple actions to improve your life,"to learn why I say this. I have been in ministry for almost 30 years and teaching religion for 22 years, I know from whence I speak, at least on some things, this in particular.
If you missed the first two blogs in this series, go back and read them as they build upon one another. Feel free to follow me on Instagram or Facebook and share posts and make comments as you see fit. Also, if you have not signed up for my email list, please do so. I send out bi-monthly newsletters and am currently working on a special gift for my subscribers.