Working for the weekend! (Part II)
Ah, sweet Sabbath. Sabbath is a precious time, but as with many aspects of our life, it isn’t just going to happen and happen well, without some purposeful planning on our parts.
As I shared earlier, Sabbath at our house is comprised of two things: preparation and celebration. I already covered the first two aspects of preparation: food and house. The last one, hearts is so much more important than either of the other two and yet so intangible, in many ways.
Heart preparation for Sabbath really requires little more than an understanding of what your heart needs for Sabbath and some thought out planning. Just like sun and wind take their toll on our skin, so too does being “in the world, but not of the world” take its toll on our hearts. Our souls, actually, can become wearied and dried out and no amount of Neutrogena or any other lotion will bring it back! But, Living Water will do it every time. 🙂
The reason we first decided to take Sabbath on Saturday came when we were looking to ministry families and the burden that Sundays were on them. We realized that they had to make a purposeful decision to Sabbath on a day other than Sunday. We also realized that we were called to consider others more important than ourselves and if we were dragging into church on Sunday morning, empty and soul-dehydrated, then we weren’t able to come with the intent to truly minister to others.
Besides that, with Littles (and at the time that we first started discussing this, we still did have lots of Littles) the likelihood that we’d both be able to attend church and walk away with food for our souls was unlikely. Someone always needed something, requiring me to give the attention that my soul desired to be given to the preaching of the Word, to something all together other. When my kiddles were young, it was easy to walk in and back out of church and never find refreshing. OH THAT I HAD KNOWN WHAT I KNOW NOW, BACK THEN!!!
With this in mind, we started our Sabbath on Saturday with the intention that it would be a day where we would listen to some good teaching/preaching, as a family. We started by participating in a tape program from church. We would sit down, in the living room (or dining room) and listen to the teaching of the Word, with the ability to pause it if I needed to address someone’s behavior or change a diaper or release someone to use the rest room. All the interruptions of a normal Sunday morning were now under OUR dominion, rather than catching us off guard.
In addition, by choosing to listen to this teaching, it also allowed us to shift from listening to discussing in short order. There was no opportunity to forget what we heard. In fact, it became pretty common for us to stop a tape and say, “Did you hear that? What did he just say?” This has greatly enhanced our family discussion capabilities as well as our listening capabilities, because you never knew when Dad would stop it and ask you what you had just heard. (Yikes, if you weren’t listening)
Doing this allowed for several things. One, it allowed us to hear the Word of God taught, as a family without the concern of being an interruption to anyone else. Two, it allowed Jeff and I to actually soak up the Word of God and have our souls ministered to. Three, it allowed our children to learn how we parse the Word of God and what is being taught, as well as see how we responded to the Word. Four, it fed our dry and weary souls, preparing us for serving better in the Kingdom, allowing us to enter into church celebration on Sunday refreshed and filled with fresh oil, with which to minister to others. MUCH more in line with what Father intended originally than what we were dragging in on a normal Sunday morning.
As far as I’m concerned, this is even more applicable if you are in a Body that has a large number of single parent families or new Believers. If you are already a drug-out, worn-out mess when you arrive, how in the world can you minister to these precious people in a way that is meaningful to them? A smile, while nice, isn’t the same as telling that single mom that you’d like her rowdy boys to sit with you during service, so that she can hear the Word preached. Likewise, you can offer to take that crying baby for the new Believer, so they can get to the know the God that they are now a child of. Being refreshed when we arrive at church is a part of being a Kingdom family – having your eyes set on advancing the Kingdom, not doing the “norm”.
In addition to planning for the feeding of your soul, I would strongly encourage you to plan on the feeding of your heart. I can not begin to count the number of times I have heard a mom say, “Oh, I wish I had time to xyz again.” Usually it has to do with a craft that they enjoy doing. First of all, it grieves me to hear a mom say that, because they likely have daughters that they could/should be sharing that craft with. (Unless our heart attitude is to glorify our incredible talent, most craftish type activities are just another way to worship our incredibly creative Lord. It is sad to me to think that our daughters are missing out on understanding that since they’re created in the image of God, creativity is going to be a part of who they are. But, that’s for another blog) 🙂 Sabbath is the ideal time to do some of those crafty things. What a delight to sit around on Sabbath afternoon, your soul full of the Word of the Lord, meditating on what you have learned/heard and discussed and worshipping Father by participating in something you delight in doing that reflects His nature. Sweet, sweet Sabbath!
While Celebration and hearts does rather seem to have some blending, there are specific things that we do that don’t necessarily minister to our hearts, but we enjoy doing them none the less.
During our Friday night Sabbath meal, we say the kiddush with our juice and bread. Our kiddles have all learned it from a very young age. Our three yr old has been able to say it for some time now, but she is at the point right now, that she would rather discuss it with us than say it. (Ahhh, and here lie some of the interesting dynamics of having a precocious toddler!) Sometimes, if Jeff feels the Lord so leading, he will lay hands on and bless each child. He’s doing that more often again. It seems to kind of ebb and flow, as the children need it. (Sometimes we have seen it minister hugely to hormonal teens – and we have one entering that stage right now, so I have to wonder if that isn’t why it’s become such an issue right now.)
Sabbath is also the night that we ALWAYS have dessert. No matter how small it might be, there is always dessert. Sabbath for us is a time to stop, be refreshed and also to remember the goodness and faithfulness of our God.
Since we started this process of becoming entrepreneurs, a few years ago, we have been studying the Exodus. Several months ago, it struck us that Rahab, when talking to the spies in Joshua 2 (8-11, if you’re wanting to look it up) said that she knew that the Lord had given the land to the children of Israel and that the hearts of the people had melted and no courage was left in them. We realized that if our hearts are melted away at hearing of such a powerful God coming against us, then surely hearing that the same God was FOR us would build our hearts up. (Faith comes by hearing….)
Because of this revelation, we have added a new aspect to our Sabbath celebration – sharing stories/testimonies both in our lives (past and current) and in the lives of others of the Lord defending and protecting and leading His people. In asking the kids to do this with us, we explained to them that we suspected that if hearing testimonies of God’s greatness melted the hearts of people, surely it would have somewhat the same effect on the powers of darkness that desire to destroy God’s people. So, weekly, we share how great and amazing our God is and what His hand hath wrought. We love it!
The final aspects of Sabbath are reciting the Scriptures that we’re currently memorizing. It’s a great time to encourage one another to excel in this area (And it’s a challenge to be ready to recite more and better than my kids do!) 😛 🙂 and Jeff leading Jeffrey in “Men’s Bible Study”. They enjoy sitting, holed up in the library, just the two of them discussing all kinds of issues (Note from Jeff: It’s an odd week if World War II isn’t referenced) and aspects of being a Godly man. They share soda and who knows what else. (Please note, the last man who came to our house on Men’s Bible Study skipped out – that should tell you just how scary it is!) 😀 😉
Because our God is living, because He is ever present, the celebration aspect of our Sabbath may change from week to week. There are some weeks that we start a euchre challenge after dinner and go until all hours of the night. There are other times, that we take a family walk. Sometimes we go to the lake. Sometimes we play Twister. Sometimes we have popcorn fights. Sometimes we eat apples and sit around a camp fire.
The sky is the limit for what our Sabbath can contain. What can I say? We serve the Most High God and all the earth is His! As long as we present ourselves a living sacrifice, all that we do is worship unto His great and mighty Name!