What so many of us do is speed up our life to this pace of hurry and overload just to cram more in. We run from thing to thing to thing, to work, to the gym, to drinks with friends, to church, to community, to volunteer night, to whatever is. And there is a kind of busyness that goes past your schedule and into your inner man or woman. Corrie ten Boom once said "if the devil can't make us bad, he'll make us busy." Because sin and busyness have a very similar effect. They cut us off with our living, restful connection in the Father's love. I remember a cliche from my childhood that was used to justify workaholism in the name of the church, which is one of the worst forms of workaholism, it's just ambition and pride and ego masquerading as ministry. I would regularly hear people say: "you know, the devil never takes a day off."I remember thinking to myself at eight years old, "doesn't he lose at the end of the story? I don't think he is who we should follow at all." So, is there a practice from the way of Jesus to mitigate against the workaholism and the hedonism and the busyness of our city? Yes, there is. The sabbath. Last week, if you were here, we began our series with a big picture vision on the spirit of restfulness in the way of Jesus, over a spirit of restlessness in our human condition and culture at large. And sabbath as a practice as a spiritual discipline by which we cultivate a spirit of restfulness all week long. If you were not here, please go back and listen to the podcast.


Tonight, and over the next few weeks, we want to lay out a Biblical theology of Sabbath. If that's new language for you, all biblical theology means is that you take a subject and you trace it through the library of scripture. You start normally in Genesis and move to the right, and as the idea develops in the library of scripture, you just stop and notice some of the key ideas. Alright, tonight we will not even make it past Exodus. Next week we will not even make it past Deuteronomy. There's actually a lot in the library of scripture on this ancient practice. To begin, Genesis chapter one, you know the opening line: "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth. Now, after six days hard at work" -- skip down to the end of the chapter, verse 31. "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day." You think your week was productive? I got x number of emails done. God's like: "Andromeda Galaxy. And the Himalayas." "Thus, the heavens and the earth were completed in all of their vast array. By the seventh day, God had finished the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day, he rested (or in Hebrew, He sabbathed) from all of his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it, He rested from all the work He rested from all the work of creating that He had done." God rested. Take a moment to let that sink in. God rested. "Yeah, but you don't know my personality type. You don't know my Meyers-Briggs type. I'm an extrovert, I'm really a doer. I just get kind of --" God rested. "Yeah, but you don't get my stage of life. I'm working two jobs and I'm in grad school…" God rested. "Yeah but you have no idea how hard it is to get tenure and what it's like in the academic--" God rested. Do I need to keep going? After six days of hard work, God said "Okay, enough. It's time to rest." And the word rest in Hebrew is "shabbat" in Hebrew, where we get the word "sabbath." And as you know from last week, all that word means is to stop or to cease. But the idea here isn't that God was tired or burnt out or like "man, this universe stuff is soul crushing." It's not that. The best analogy I can think of is: One of those first warm days of the year, in y'know, August or something, when you go out to your yard and you spend a long, hard Saturday mowing the lawn, pulling the weeds, trimming the rhododendron. You do some fresh planting, you put the kinfolk lights over the picnic table in the backyard. Whatever your thing is. Then you take a quick shower and walk back out on your patio, crack open a beer, sit down, and you delight. You look around at the work of your hands -- and your lawnmower -- and you just think: "it is very good." Or maybe for you, you're like: "yeah, I live in my mom's basement." But it's like that feeling you get after writing a term paper for Algebra. Wait, term paper for Algebra? Sorry, it's late. Just that feeling you get after a long, hard day or week of work where you sit back and you enjoy the work of your hands. That's the idea here with Sabbath. That the word "shabbat" can also be translated delight. The rabbis point out the odd language in the texts. The NIV reads that by the seventh day "God had finished his work." That masks the original Hebrew to make it less confusing for your ear. The ESV if you have it, is closer to the original. It reads: "On the seventh day, God finished the word that He had done, and He rested." Notice how weird that language is; it's actually a better translation. It makes it sound like God created something else on the sabbath. The rabbis for hundreds of years postulate that on day seven, God created menuha, which is a Hebrew word normally translated as rest. But it means a kind of restfulness that is a party, a celebration, or a joyful delight. That's what the sabbath is. It's a whole day set aside to follow God's example, stop, and just delight. In the world, in your life in it, and above all, in God himself. Dan Allender, in his book on the Sabbath, has this to say: "The Sabbath is an invitation to enter delight. The Sabbath, when experienced as God intended, is the best day of our lives. Without question or thought, it is the best day of the week. It is the day we anticipate on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday—and the day we remember on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Sabbath is the holy time where we feast, play, dance, have sex, sing, pray, laugh, tell stories, read, paint, walk and watch creation in its fullness. Few people are willing to enter the Sabbath and sanctify it, to make it holy, because a full day of delight and joy is more than most people can bear in a lifetime, let alone a week." For those of you new to the Sabbath, a great question to ask yourself and give shape to your practice is: what could I do for 24 hours that would bring me deep, throbbing, authentic, joy? What would make me just spontaneously combust in an act of worship to God. For me, that means my phone is off, my laptop is put away, and I'm sorry, you can't get a hold of me. For me, it means I'm normally out in nature for a walk in Forest Park. It means I'm with my family, having soul-level conversations with my wife. I normally play around with my kids. It means I'm eating a lot. For me, that means homemade sourdough bread from my lovely wife. This time of year it means a fire, and a warm novel, and a cuddle session with my kids. It means a weekly Christmas, except without all that stress and that weird uncle in the corner. It's like all of the good, none of the bad. It's just a weekly party, celebration, delight. And all that is good and beautiful and true. Before we move on, let's begin with our Biblical theology. Just notice three things: Notice that God worked for six days, and then He rested. And in doing so, he built a rhythm into the fabric of creation. It's not a coincidence that every single society in the world, east, west, Judeo-Christian roots, Hindu roots, or Buddhist roots. They all run off a seven day week. The last serious attempt to change the seven day week was made in 1793 France during the revolution. It was changed to a 10 day week to up productivity. The result? Suicide went through the roof, mental illness was off the charts, and productivity went down. In fact, all sorts of studies from social scientists now document that productivity drops, like way down, after about 50-55 hours a week. There's virtually no difference in productivity between somebody working 90 hours a week, and somebody working 50 or 60, which is ironically about six days of work. But we live now in a world without rhythm. All sorts of things -- I wish we had Mark Sayers here to pontificate -- but all sorts of things, the clock, the lightbulb, the rising cost of living, secularism's mantra of "you only live once," FOMO, all of that -- has conspired to create a world where we go and we go and we go. And we never stop. We never sabbath. But you are not a machine. You are a human being. You have a soul. You were not made to go and go and go. You were not made to work 24/7. You were made to live into this rhythm that is embedded in creation itself. Wayne Mueller opens his beautiful book on the sabbath was this paragraph: "In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between work and rest. All life requires a rhythm of rest. There is a rhythm in our waking activity and the body's need for sleep. There is a rhythm in the way day dissolves into night, and night into morning. There is a rhythm as the active growth of spring and summer is quieted by the dormancy of fall and winter. There is a tidal rhythm, a deep, eternal conversation between the land and the great sea. In our bodies, the heart perceptibly rests after each life-giving beat; the lungs rest between the exhale and the inhale. We have lost this essential rhythm. Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something - anything -- is better than doing nothing. Because of our desire to succeed...we do not rest. Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight. Poisoned by this hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can neer truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives are in danger."


I was chatting with a doctor this morning who works in physical therapy. And she said that for ninety percent of her patients, the first thing she has to re-teach them how to breathe. Most Americans don't know how to breathe anymore. She meant that not as a metaphor; she meant you need to re-understand how to breathe. When you don't sabbath, you go against the rhythm of God himself. Remember our worldview is different than that of our city. You are not an animal of time and chance on your side. Even in that worldview, nature, which is ironically always capitalized and personified as a thinking, sentient being, which is really weird. It's the only way to make sense of the design of the universe. God created you to live in a certain way. He created your soul, your whole being, to live in a rhythm of work and rest. As the philosopher H.H. Farmer once said: "when you go against the grain of the universe, you get splinters." How good is that line? This is true on a positive side. History has it that the pioneers who kept the sabbath on the Oregon Trail arrived here before everybody else who did not. A more recent, scientific study of Seventh Day Adventists -- a Christian denomination where sabbath is a core part of their practice -- found that as a whole, Seventh Day Adventists are not only happier on average than Americans and Christians in general, but live eleven years longer than the average American. One doctor in his summary of this survey pointed out that if you count up the time devoted to sabbath in the American lifespan, it's exactly eleven years. His hypothesis was that for every day you sabbath, you literally get a day back added to your life. Some of you are like: "now, I'm in. Immortality. I quit work now to live forever." But on the negative side, when you go against the grain of the universe, you suffer the consequences in your soul. Burnout. Chronic anxiety. High blood pressure. A lousy immune system. Sick too often. Brain fog. Spiritual doubt or a sense of disconnect from God. Emotionally or relationally, just a sense of disconnect from your own soul, isolation, shallow relationships. You feel like you know all these people but yet feel alone. We can't fight the sabbath rhythm anymore than we can fight gravity or the second law of thermodynamics. What many find is that if you don't practice, then illness, or cancer, or an accident will become your sabbath. Sabbath is coming for you. Sounds like a horror film. No seriously, sabbath is coming for you. Whether as delight or discipline. Because there is a rhythm in the fabric of creation. Secondly, notice that God blessed the second day. Let me go Bible nerd on you for a minute. In Genesis 1 and 2, God blesses three things. Animals first, then humans, then the sabbath. With the first two, in Genesis 1 (animals and humans), the blessing is a life-giving ability to procreate. So God blesses the animals He says to "be fruitful and multiply." Then He blesses human beings and says the exact same thing: "be fruitful and increase in numbers." With your spouse. Just have to say that. Then he blesses a day. He blesses animals, He blesses humans, and then blesses a day. Meaning the sabbath, just like animals and just like human beings, has in it a life-giving ability to procreate. An ability to fill up the earth with more life. Work, no matter how good it is, is tiring. Even if you love your job. I love my job, but by the end of the week I'm not the same person as how I started it. I'm not my best self anymore, my self control/self-discipline reserves are way down. My optimism, my creativity, my mental focus is way down. I don't have the same capacity for emotional pain or relational pain. Even when it was a good week. Even if it's a great week, I'm just tired. Rest refills your emotional, mental, spiritual, even physical reservoirs. It refills you with creativity, with wisdom, with a sharp mind, with optimism, with clarity, with a sense of peace about you. Rest is life giving. Why? Because God blessed the sabbath day. Third, God blessed the sabbath day and made it "holy." Now, the rabbis talk about the principle of first mention, which is a hermeneutical principle that basically means the first time you read a word or an idea in the library of scripture, its function is to define that word or idea for all the library of scripture. Now, whether or not that is a valid hermeneutical principle, either way it's fascinating that the first time you ever read the word holy in all the Bible, it's right here. What does God make holy? Time. This is fascinating, in the ancient Near East, gods and goddesses were found in the world of space, not in the world of time -- in a temple or mountain or at the top of a ziggurat in Mesopotamia. You and I, we read right over this. As an ancient reader in Babylon, Mesopotamia, or Egypt, this would've leapt off the page to you. You would expect, if you were an ancient reader, you would expect God to make a holy temple or a holy mountain or a holy ziggurat. Instead, God makes a holy day. Abraham Joshua Heschel puts it this way: "The sabbaths are our great cathedrals." Think about the Hebrew tradition. Other than the temple, there are no great cathedrals. Even in the Christian tradition, all of those are later, post-Constantine. Heschel called the sabbath "architecture in time." And his point was that for this God, because He is the one true creator God of all creation, then all of the universe is his temple. There's no way to locate Him on top of a mountain or a shrine. All of the universe, all of reality is His temple. You cannot contain the presence of this God. Therefore He is found less in the world of space and more in the world of time. To drag that down to right where we're at today, this means you don't need to get on a plane to the other side of the world and make pilgrimage to experience God. You don't even need to come into a church building, as beautiful as the one we now own is, to experience God. All you need to do is stop. Sabbath. God is found less in space and more in time. In the moment, but above all, if you want to experience God, you enter His day that is blessed and holy. Now, let's keep going. Turn over to Exodus chapter 20. As you move forward in the story of God, God calls a people to himself that we now know as Israel. He calls Israel out of Egypt and through the desert to the land of promise, and en route they make a stop at Mt. Sinai for what we now know as the Ten Commandments. And for the first time, God now commands his people to take full advantage of this ancient practice. Exodus chapter 20 verse 1, God spoke all these words: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Out of the land of slavery." Command number one, verse three: "no other gods before me." Command number two, verse four, "do not make for yourself an image." Commandment number three, verse seven, "you shall not misuse the name of Yahweh, your God." Command number four, verse eight, "remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." So remember, He already blessed it, He already made it holy. Our job is to keep it holy and not to profane it. Not to take something that is holy, that is set apart for God or dedicated to God, not to take it and just trash it and turn it into another ordinary weekend. We are 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, neither you nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigners residing in your towns. For in, and here's the reason why, here's the motivation: "for in six days, the Lord may the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." Notice three more things. Number four, the sabbath is not the same thing as a day off. Now we're Americans, we love our day off. Am I right? We get this idea of a day off. On a day off, we don't work for our employer in theory, but we still do all the work we don't get paid for. We do errands, we pay the bills, we pay the bills, we mow the lawn, we play, we go see a movie, we hang out, we play frisbee golf, whatever you're into. We shop, we go to IKEA and nine hours later we have a plant…" A day off is what undisciplined, unsabbathed people do to catch up on all the stuff on the to-do list. And a day off is not a bad thing, it's just not a sabbath. It's what Eugene Peterson once called a "bastard sabbath." It is the illegitimate child of the seventh day in American culture. The sabbath is not a day off, nor is it Sunday church. You know, Sunday means different things to different people. For consumers, Sunday is a day to go shopping. For doers, it's a way to catch up around the house and get all your stuff done. For careerists, it's a day to get ahead at work, check on your inbox, start to plan your meetings, schedule some stuff ahead of what's on your agenda for the week. For sports fans, it's a day to load up the car with a chair or your cooler and watch TV all afternoon. For church people, it's often a day to come to worship in the morning or in the evening, and before or after, just kind of hang out, answer emails, fold laundry, watch Netflix, hang out with your friends, brunch, do whatever it is that you do. A lot of you who are very involved at our church and volunteer all day long, for whom we should just thank you every Sunday and stand up and applaud for you. But often, you get to the end of Sunday and you're exhausted. I am. It doesn't mean it was a bad day or not time well spent, it just meant it was something other than a sabbath. My point is that we get how to worship at church, we get that Sunday kind of thing. We get how to shop. We get how to play. We get how to work. All of us get how to consume entertainment. But very few of us actually know how to rest. We confuse relaxation with restoration. Again, relaxation is not a bad thing. But it's not the same. TV's a great example. I'm shocked that in spite of all the smartphone data and all the wifi stuff, the average American watches four to five hours a day. The average Netflix show, the entire series is done in four days. I read this interview with the CEO of Netflix a while back, who asked if he was scared about the competition of Amazon and online streaming, and he was really nonchalant. He said: "oh no, our number one competitor is sleep." You know something is wrong when Netflix is not fighting Amazon or whatever, but is literally fighting sleep. My point is, how many of you binge watch The Good Wife season 7, or whatever your thing is, and you get to the end and you just turn off that last episode at 2 a.m., my soul is SO alive right now? I just feel so at peace with God, my own body, my sexuality, I just feel so content in life. I feel clarity around my identity and calling. I just have such a focus on what my life is about in this season right now, and I'm just so happy. I just have this joy. You're laughing because none of us feel that way. How do you feel? You feel, "wow, that was really good. I'm sad it's over. I'm gonna be so tired tomorrow." All you do is escape the pressure of your ordinary life, neglect the care of your body and soul, and squander your precious reserves of "free time" on things that don't actually restore you. My point isn't like anti-Sandra Bullock in Bird Box. My point is, that is not rest. That's not the sabbath. The sabbath is a holy day, and this is not language that we're used to even in the church. The word "holy." The word "holy" means other, or separate, or unique. It means to set apart or dedicate a day to God. Meaning what? The sabbath is a day for rest, but not just rest, but also for worship. A lot of people hear rest and say: "oh yeah, it's a day to watch TV and just hang out." It's a day for rest, and worship. When I sabbath, I run every activity, because activity's not a bad thing it's wonderful, I run activity through this grid: is this rest and is this worship too? If the answer is yes, then I enjoy guilt-free. Which for my personality, is a win. If the answer is no, or kind of but not really, or "ehhh," then I just hold off. There are six other days of the week for that. Now when I say worship, just to clarify, I don't mean you have to sing Bethel songs all day long, and you have to read through Leviticus and pray for nine hours straight. Those are all beautiful things, but I mean it in the broader sense that you intentionally feed your soul with beauty in order to curate a moment or a series of moments where you spontaneously combust in wonder and awe and delight and joy and gratitude in God's presence. So come to church and sing and pray and read the scriptures, just expand your list of spiritual disciplines to include eating a burrito that afternoon, or drinking a glass of wine, or walking in the forest, or playing charades last night and watching Moses act out Catwoman. Best moment of the day, let me tell you. Fifth, notice that the sabbath is both a command and a gift. I just need to say this: it is, to clarify, one of the ten commandments. In fact, if you accountant people were to break the ten commandments into a pie chart, sabbath is by far the longest piece of the pie. Theologians point out that it's commandment number four, the bridge between the first three, which are about our relationship with God, with the last three, which are about our relationship with our neighbor. It is the anchor point by which we curate emotional and spiritual health to love God and love neighbor as ourself. One of things that really struck me this last week that was a new idea to me was the realization that sabbath is the only practice, or you could call it a spiritual discipline, that is commanded in the ten commandments. So, you know, depending on how you interpret the ten commandments -- there are different takes -- my view is that the ten commandments are like baseline morality. My thinking right now is that the way the kingdom of God works is baseline morality is commanded, and everything after that (maturity, growth) is all invitational. So Jesus, and the scriptures command you don't murder, don't have an affair, stay faithful to your spouse, but all the other stuff, except for prayer, are invitational. Jesus doesn't command you to read your Bible in the morning. He doesn't command you to pray in the morning. He just does it, and says: "come follow me." All that to say, I am so struck by the fact that the one practice that is commanded, which I'm reading as baseline morality, is sabbath. Not even prayer. Not silence and solitude. Not even scripture. But we are commanded to sabbath. Now, there's all sorts of debate, and most of you know this, about whether or not followers of Jesus have to keep the Sabbath on this side of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Now we live in the New Covenant, if you know basic theology. Most scholars, to be fair, argue that no, we don't; that it was a part of the Torah for Israel. There is no command to practice the sabbath in the teachings of Jesus or in the New Testament or in the writings of Paul. The early church moved the sabbath from the Jewish Sabbath of Friday night to Saturday afternoon and moved it to Sunday and called it "the Lord's day," to celebrate and mark the resurrection of Jesus. Now we just live in a spirit of restfulness all week long because of Christ's work on the cross, we're no longer earning, we don't have to strive for the love of God. Now it is all done, so we live into this spirit. That's kind of the majority position. I'm actually in the minority that think it's not right. I'm most likely wrong, but I think I'm right. But I would argue counter to that, sure, yes, but it's one of the Ten Commandments. The other nine are still binding last time I checked. Last time I checked, it's not like "oh yeah, we can murder now because Christ has finished all the work. It's not about striving, it's like covetousness is totally cool, lie all you want, it's the age of grace." To be serious, you have to wrestle with it. It is one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus never said anything to abrogate or annul this commandment. Most of the stories that we read in the gospels about Jesus are on the sabbath. Jesus gets a bad rap because often His negative interactions with the Pharisees on the sabbath, and often Christians in a culture that has no sabbath misread Jesus as down on the sabbath, when in reality what he's down on is the abuse of the sabbath. One of Jesus' best teachings on the Sabbath is: "the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath," and humanity was not made for the sabbath, but sabbath was made for humanity. Not to mention, it's the one commandment that has an explanation behind it. There's no "don't murder, and here's why you really shouldn't murder." Even for adultery, there's no explanation. It's just, don't do it. For sabbath, there's a whole, long "for in six days God created the Heavens and the earth," and He blessed this day and made it holy. There's a rhythm in creation. Now, set that theological debate aside for a moment. You're like "who's right, who's wrong?" It doesn't even matter. I don't really care. Because, either way, the sabbath still stands as a rhythm embedded into creation. Fighting about whether or not we have to keep the sabbath is like fighting whether or not we have to keep the law of gravity. It's a waste of breath. The law of gravity just is, and we ignore it at our own peril. Feel free to ignore it if you want. There's lots of things that aren't commanded in the New Testament. We have a dog now -- that's a whole nother teaching series -- and she eats rocks. It's a thing. We have this little planter in our living room and she just goes over and she just eats them. There's no command against eating rocks in the New Testament. If you want to live in the New Testament and exercise your freedom in Christ and eat rocks you are welcome to. No wrath of God upon you, just have fun at the emergency room the next day. My point is there are lots of things that aren't commanded that are not only wisdom, but just the way that God created the universe to function and thrive. I love the language of chapter sixteen. There's a beautiful line where God says to Israel: "have I not commanded the sabbath," and then in the next line: "I have given you the sabbath." Meaning the sabbath is both a command and a gift. Whether or not we have to enjoy this gift or not, I for one want to.


Finally notice the command is to "remember" the sabbath. Ah, I love that. Remember. What interesting language. Remember the sabbath. Because we forget. I for one am prone to amnesia, which is why most of our teaching is just retelling things you already know. Because if you're like me you need to hear things over and over again. We need to remember. The idea here is more than just a "oh, don't forget to take a sabbath this weekend, or whatever." The idea is to remember to drag into your active memory a reality of the universe that you are to live out in the present moment. On sabbath, we are to remember that there is a rhythm to creation. We work for six days. That's a whole other side of this conversation. Some of us need to hear that first part. For six days you shall work. You're like "does two and a half count?" For six days you shall work. But then we sabbath, we stop enough. We remember that life is more than just this war with the curse and the fallout on humanity, but rather, we don't just fight with the soil of the earth to wring profit and survive another day. Remember that life is a gift. Remember that life is hard, yes, but it's also good. That most people around the world agree that life is suffering, and at the same time most people still conclude that life is a net positive. That there's lots of evil and injustice and sadness but there's even more good and generosity and kindness. And above all, we remember life comes to us not as a right, not as something to seize, but it comes to us as a gift to be enjoyed. We owe it to our creator to enjoy His world as an act of worship. What's the best way to honor somebody's generosity to you? After you say "thank you very much," the best way to honor them is to have a really good time with whatever the gift was. Whenever I give a gift to my children at Christmas, I love it when they say thank you. I love it even more when they just get lost in the novel or the lego or the art project. Whatever the gift was. They just get lost in the sheer joy of it. That does something to my soul. One of the best ways to say thank you to God for your life in His world is to deeply enjoy it. To recap: the sabbath is 1.) Built into the rhythm of creation. 2.) It's a happy day of delight, 3.) It's holy, it is where we experience God and time. 4.) It is a day for rest and worship, not just Sunday church with email after. 5.) it is a command and a gift, and 6.) it is a day to remember.


On that note, our practice for the week ahead is all up on the Week two of our practice is called "the preparation day." Hopefully you started this last week, but if not no rush. The basic idea for week two, is in our 24/7 world, sabbath will not just happen on accident. It will not just spontaneously happen to you. If it does, it will likely take the path of least resistance and devolve into that "bastard sabbath." To sabbath well requires (ironically) a little bit of work, which is the very thing we're all trying to get away from. But there's something to that. For this week, the idea is very simple: just take the day before and prepare. This language of the preparation day comes from the New Testament itself. It's used I think three times for first century Jews for the day before the Sabbath, which would've been Friday up until sundown. For you the preparation day might look like grocery shopping or cooking so the meal is all ready for that night or the next day. It might look like "Inbox: 0" or scheduling a time and place to meet your friend for coffee or tea so you can turn your phone off. It might mean house cleaning if you're OCD. Whatever you need to do so your sabbath is actually a sabbath, and you are free to just dive into delight. But to end, that doesn't mean you have to finish everything in time for the sabbath. You know, as we said last week, there are all sorts of ways and even times to practice the sabbath. There's no right, there's no wrong. It's just wisdom. But the tradition in my family, because Sunday is a very long work day for me, we practice the traditional sabbath: twenty minutes before sundown on Friday night to the same time on Saturday evening. One of the things I love -- this is not a command in the Old or New Testament, the 20 minute before sundown thing, it's just a best practice thing. One of the things I love about this best practice of beginning the sabbath 20 minutes before sundown (which at this time of year is about 4:13 in the afternoon and in the summer is quite late) is you begin not when you're done, but when you're out of time. When I say I love that, I mean I hate that. I'm a to-do list person. My idea of hell is either a cocktail party or a to-do list where you just finish seven of the ten, and you just live with this perpetual to-do list that never gets done. That's worse than anything Dante ever came up with. But there's something beautiful here. Our work is bottomless, it's a black hole. I just turned in the manuscript for my next book -- it was due at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday -- and I literally sent the email at 6:29. I was laughing as I thought about this coming weekend, because there's a saying in writing literature that a book is never done, it's just due, which is very true. And I think that's just true of work in general. Work is never done, you're just out of time. For example, this last Friday I had a home project I really wanted to do that afternoon after a long week. But I had a phone call scheduled with one of my best friends just to keep a soul connection. I thought it would be twenty minutes long. It ended up being an hour, hour and a half, because we had this profound conversation about spirituality. I got off the phone, looked at my watch, and saw it was time for sabbath. I don't have time for my project. There was a part of me that thought: "no, my to-do list. I had one thing left." There's like four of you that have my personality and are like "aw man, I feel for you." The rest of you, just imagine, alright? But there was something beautiful about that. Something that is a spiritual discipline for my soul. There's something about having a boundary on my life to say: "okay, enough is enough. We stop here. It doesn't matter if it's done, because it's never done." Life is never done. Don't procrastinate, don't make excuses, don't say when. It's just never done. Life is here, life is now. What I find sabbath after sabbath, which is so shocking to me, is I power down, disappear, I worship for a full day, and at the end of it I'm shocked. Guess what? The universe got along fine without me for the day. I wake up Sunday morning and I'm like: "the church is still here! You're alive, you're well and you're better than the last time I saw you. Our house is still standing. I'm not dead. Our children haven't starved to death. It's like wow, the universe is still standing. It gets along fine without me. Sabbath is a weekly reminder that there is a God, and it's not me. It is a weekly reminder of what life is actually about. What matters and doesn't matter. It's a weekly reminder of my identity, that it's not what I do. I care about what I do a lot, but my identity isn't a sermon I preach or how many people listen to a podcast. My identity isn't how many things I got done at the office that week, and neither is yours. My identity isn't whether or not people like me or hate me or most of them just don't care. My identity is not what I have. It's not how I feel about my body. It's not how my children perform to make me look good and fit my ego. It's none of those things. I'm not any of that. I am who I am loved by. And sabbath is a weekly line in the sand that says you are loved by the Father. You are a son, you are a child. You are who you are loved by, and all of life is a gift. Enjoy it as an act of worship. Remember the sabbath, my friends.


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