As you may well know my Lent challenge was rather a short one this year due to our transatlantic move but God, as ever, has not disappointed in what He has taught me.
Sabbath to me has always been Sunday rest. Being raised in a Christian home, I learned from a young age not to do homework on Sunday and even more importantly, not to worry about not doing homework on Sunday. This ingrained teaching saw me through every single exam I have ever taken. Even during my finals at university when I had a major nervous breakdown and forced myself each day to work unreasonable hours, I nevertheless never once studied on a Sunday. I have always given it to God.
Yet about ten years ago I started to treat my Sabbath differently and I’ve never really taken the time to address this until this Lent time.
Ten years ago my husband decided to make a massive career decision to stop being a helicopter pilot and captain in the army and to become a civilian helicopter pilot. To make this happen he had to do umpteen exams over a year. Every minute he wasn’t working he was revising. He even took his books with him to Afghanistan in the hope that he might find a moment to revise (as you can imagine, he didn’t!).
This meant a big change for me too. Saturday’s and Sunday’s were no longer our time to spend together as a couple and so I had to start thinking of things to do with my time. One of my new routines was that after church and lunch on a Sunday I would clean the house as he revised. This actually made me feel good. One less chore to do in the week and more time to go to the gym! I did not give this change much thought and if I’m honest I can look back at this time and see that this was mainly due to the fact that I wasn’t in a very good place with God at the time due to personal circumstances. Not giving Him my everything had already become my new normal and this change in my Sabbath day was just yet another step down a slippery ladder away from Him.
But even over the past few years, as my relationship with Him has gone from strength to strength, this is an area I’ve not readdressed. However God tells us there is a season for everything and this month has been the season for Him to speak to me clearly about how I treat Sabbath.
So what have I learned?
There will always be chores on a Sunday, that is sadly just inevitable. Cleaning up after a nice lunch, putting away the children’s clothes that they’ve left strewn on the bathroom floor, packing lunches for Mondays back to school routine. This is modern life and the life of a mum however we look at it.
But what has been revolutionary about my Sabbath Lent journey is that if I’ve had my Sabbath moments throughout the week then these necessary chores are made lighter & they don’t take me away from God because I’m already standing and resting on Him.
I was very intrigued going into this about what I would find to be my favourite Sabbath activity. Finding something that gives rest yet keeps me focused on Him.
Reading a book and having a cup of tea is one of my absolute favourite things to do and whilst for some this might be the perfect Sabbath activity, for me I didn’t feel like I could remain connected to God whilst reading a work of fiction. Now I could have got around this by reading a Christian book (which I enjoy very much) but for me that isn’t relaxing. I read Christian books in order to learn and if I’m learning then I’m not resting.
So what was my solution? Very simply, bible journaling! I’ve been bible journaling for about 18 months now but I tend to do it sporadically, when I can find the time. But for Lent I have been regularly bible journaling and I adore it. It allows me to be creative whilst thinking about God. I get four or five coloured pens and pick a verse and journal it into my moleskine journal.
I feel light, I feel happy and most importantly of all I don’t feel guilty. It’s mine and God’s time and it is my Sabbath! Sometimes I do it on Sundays but I also take the time throughout the week. I just take a moment when I fancy it, completely guilt free.
This Lent journey has also made me take stock of Sunday again and make it a treasured day once more. God takes the time to teach us in seasons and I am so delighted that He has graciously taken this time to show me what He wants me to be doing.
If you’ve learned anything new about Sabbath recently or have got any Sabbath tips then please share them in the comments below!