Today, I want you to pretend that you are in the deep end of a swimming pool. Do you have that in your mind? It’s the summer, it’s hot, you are at a party and you find yourself in the deep end of the pool. Now imagine that you can’t swim. You are in the deep end of the pool and you can’t swim. Think about that for a second. What do you think you would do in that situation? Chances are, you would be kicking, screaming and in a constant state of fear. It’s frantic, it’s chaos. And, if no one came to save you, you would be exhausted.
Now think about that for a second. In that moment, would you be able to think clearly? Would you be able to process your emotions and why you feel them? Would you be able to think through the priorities of your life? Would you be able to think about those you love and what they need from you? Would you be able to pray and have a meaningful connection with Christ? Would you be able to open your bible and read? Would you be able to maintain friendships?
The answer to all those questions is, “Of course not.” That moment is pure chaos. You are too stressed and too tired to think.
I believe, that’s an accurate picture of who we are today. We can live like we are in the deep end of the pool and we can’t swim. The difference is, we aren’t living in a frantic moment, we are living in a frantic life. We are drowning in stress and exhaustion and business. And because of that, we aren’t living well. Don’t get me wrong. We get the kids to the sports fields. We change diapers. We get to church now and then. We pay the bills. What I am saying is we aren’t living well. We aren’t living with purpose and courage. But we aren’t loving. We aren’t experiencing God.
Please hear me when I share with you the impact this is having on our lives.
We can’t think clearly. Everything is hitting us at one time and it leaves us in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed because we can’t think through what is a priority and what is not.
We can be so tired that, church, the bible, prayer none of these things seem to help. We so tired, we can’t enjoy God.
In this condition, we simply don’t have the ability to live a life filled with courage, generosity, forgiveness and love. We don’t live with courage. We live with stress. We live in fear about tomorrow. How can you live with courage when you feel like you are falling behind?
We are simply too stressed and too tired to do anything on purpose. We are only able to exist for today. We only have the energy for now. We become extremely selfish, we struggle to love. We just struggle to think of others.
This way of living, in chaos, some call, ‘Doing violence to our souls.’ We are not living well.
Let me ask you, are you feeling frantic about today, worried about tomorrow, and does that leave you feeling spiritually empty? If you feel like you are in the deep end of the pool and unable to swim, there is an answer. But before I give it to you, you I must something on the front end. It will require radical trust in God. It will require radical surrender to God. And, you will need to make a radical change in your life.
Here it is right from scripture. Psalms 46:10
“Stop fighting,” he says, “and know that I am God.” GNT
“Be still, and know that I am God.” NIV
“Be silent, and know that I am God.” NLT
Maybe the answer to our struggle is: stop fighting life, be still, be silent and know that God is in control. ‘Stop fighting’ and ‘be still’ and ‘be silent’ can be wrapped up into one word: Sabbath. Basically, it a snow day. Of course there is a lot more meaning but for simplicity, it’s a snow day. God commands a snow day.
It will require radical trust in God. It will require radical surrender to God. And, you will need to make a radical change in your life. This trust produces a different life.
31 What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. 32 People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. MSG Matthew 6:30-34
In the Living Translation,
Jesus said, “…don’t be anxious about tomorrow…”
Can you imagine the freedom you could enter into? To not be anxious about today or tomorrow? Is that possible? Yes.
When I say ‘Sabbath,’ what do you think? Does this excite you? Do you think, “Yes, I would love one snow day a week.” Or, “Yes, this is exactly what I need in my life, tell me more?” For most people, Sabbath doesn’t sound great at all. Why? We don’t fully understand it and we can immediately view Sabbath as a religious, legalistic rule. We ask question like: What about shopping on Sunday? What about eating out Sunday? What about sports on Sunday? If I wash my car on Sunday, do I go to hell? What if I get hurt and go to the hospital, am I ruining the Sabbath for the Emergency room staff? My favorite; Ken, did you know Sabbath for Jesus was on Saturday?
Why does this happen? Legalism ruins Sabbath. Legalism is a religious way of living that takes the life-giving command of God and ruins it by turning it into a frustrating, oppressive rule. Religion always makes a rule and then makes more rules to define the first rule. It leaves us feeling good if we follow the rule, bad if we don’t and we don’t follow the rule and we like pointing out to others when they don’t live up to the rule. Check out this story.
23 One Sabbath day he [Jesus] was walking through a field of ripe grain. 24 As his disciples made a path, they pulled off heads of grain. The Pharisees told on them to Jesus: “Look, your disciples are breaking Sabbath rules!”
25 Jesus said, “Really? Haven’t you ever read what David did when he was hungry, along with those who were with him? 26 How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, with the Chief Priest Abiathar right there watching – holy bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat – and handed it out to his companions?”
27 Then Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath. 28 The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath. He’s in charge!” MSG Mark 2:23-28
Do you see it? There is a rule. The religious people focused on the rule and wanted to judge Jesus. What did Jesus do? He turns the religious argument about the rules, and details of that rule, into grace. A life-giving principle. Sabbath serves us, we don’t serve the Sabbath. When we talk about Sabbath rest, if we feel any guilt, if we view it as an oppressive or confusing rule, we have completely missed the point of Sabbath. Sabbath serves us.
Sabbath is about stopping. Scripture says, stop fighting life. Be still. Be silent and know that God is in control. Sabbath is about coming to God and saying, “I am not God. I am not in control of my life and I am not going to act like I am.” It’s us putting our trust in God and believing, my God will take care of me. And because God will take care of me, I can relax today and I don’t have to anxious about tomorrow.
Sabbath will require radical trust in God. It will require radical surrender to God. And, you will need to make a radical change in your life.
Maybe Sabbath to you sounds like a road block to living life. It’s another religious rule that steals time from you. You hear me talk about it and quietly think, “I can’t do that, I can’t afford the time.” So let’s talk about time. Scripture is clear about time.
Reverence for God adds hours to each day. TLB Proverbs 10:27
Did you know that? Sabbath, rest, reverence for God adds hours to your day. But what do most people think? Sabbath is another religious standard that is a bizarre, impossible, road block to living. Actually; it adds hours to your day.
Here is what God says.
13 If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage, if you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, GOD’s holy day as a celebration, if you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’ making money, running here and there – 14 Then you’ll be free to enjoy GOD! Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all. I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob. Yes! GOD says so! MSG Isaiah 58:13-14
Here is what you need to know. The information in chapter 8 teaches, in detail, two things. It first teaches about Sabbath rest and the details around that. But it also teaches how to walk with God day to day. There is so much more in the material I would need two months to walk through it with you.
We can live frantic lives. We can feel like we are in the deep end of the pool and we don’t know how to swim. God says, stop fighting life, be still, be silent and know that I am God. And when you do that, I will bless you. I will add hours to your day. The real question is: Do you trust God?
Here is what God is inviting you into.
Sabbath rest pulls you out of this godless world that is obsessed with proving their value with awards, achievements and possessions. If you live in that world without pulling out of it, you will begin to think, I my value is based on awards, achievements and possessions.
Sabbath rest means you tell yourself, your family, your kids and God, this world doesn’t determine how we live, God does.
Sabbath is about embracing the reality that you have limits. You can’t get it all done. You can’t keep everyone happy. Sabbath tells God, I need you to finish what I can’t get done. You embrace your limits and sleep at night knowing that God is working on your behalf. You can rest.
Here is what I want you to see. God changes you when you Sabbath. Sabbath is a distinguishing mark of a disciple of Christ. You are telling God, with your time, I’m not in control, You are; I trust You.
It’s like forgiving. Forgiving is a distinguishing mark of a disciple of Christ. To be able to absorb the hurt and pain from this world and give back love is what Jesus did, so it’s what we do. We are trusting God with our hearts and God transforms us.
It’s like giving. Giving is a distinguishing mark of a disciple of Christ. You are taking the most personal issue of your life, your money, and telling God, I give 10% back to You. My security isn’t in the money I keep, it’s in You. I manage Your money and I trust that You will provide for me. We trust God with our money and God transforms us.
It’s like loving. Loving is a distinguishing mark of a disciple of Christ. Jesus loves you and pursues you and you don’t deserve it. Love is now how we live. When we love the unlovable, we are most like God. We are trusting God with our hearts and God transforms us.
Do you see it? Sabbath, forgiving, giving, loving are how God shapes and molds us. We are trusting God with our hearts, our money and our time. As we trust God in these areas, it’s how we are spiritually transformed. It should be no surprise that we struggle to trust God in these areas. We either ignore these areas or turn them into legalistic rules. All along, God invites us to trust Him.
Sabbath is trust. Sabbath is about coming to God and saying, “I am not God. I am not in control of my life and I am not going to act like I am.” It’s us putting our trust in God and believing, my God will take care of me. And because God will take care of me, I can relax today and I don’t have to anxious about tomorrow.
That’s why, not doing Sabbath, not stopping, not being still, not bring silent is doing violence to us.
“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence… activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence… It kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”
Sabbath is about trust. Do you believe God will care for you? Can you imagine the freedom to say, “I’m not anxious about today or tomorrow?”