Posturing Our Hearts for a Sabbath Rest

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:1-3).

It’s coming around again. An ending to a week that has just barely begun. I couldn’t have accurately forecasted its path seven days ago because chaotic living has become my norm. Most days spend as a blur, and by week’s end, exhaustion finds its bed within my weary frame.

I am tired, and I am in need.

My Father knows my requirement, and thus he gives me permission for a Sabbath pause—a gift of rest consecrated and set apart for my ceasing from the ordinary in order to partake of the extraordinary.

The problem is…

I rarely take him up on his gift. And tonight I ponder as to the probable cause of my denial.

The Israelites got caught up within the particulars of a Sabbath’s rest. Regulations and requisites ruled the day. And as so often the case, whenever the law of religion supersedes the grace of its faith, rest is rarely, if ever…found.

I am afraid we are not so far in our thinking and in our doing from that of our spiritual ancestors. We busy ourselves with the many details of a Sabbath observation. Church life requires it. We didn’t mean for it to be this way…to make Sundays a day of work rather than a day of rest. It is simply the nature of the beast that we have fed with our programs and perfections and providings.

Instead of entering into the gift of God’s rest, we exhaust ourselves by walking around it, coddling it with the promise of our return once the details have walked their course. Unfortunately, their steps are many and their pace is measured by the cadence of man’s intent rather than the consecration of God’s endowment.

We have made the Sabbath a difficult embrace. God has always meant for it to be our simple acceptance. And tonight I am wondering…

What would it take for us to arrive at a similar conclusion—to get to the point where we lay down our busy in exchange for a posture that simply lies down?

What indeed?!

Meet the Robins’ family. They nest just down the street at Inie’s house, and they have much to teach us about a Sabbath pause, for they have perfected a consecrated rest.

A Sabbath rest is found in the hiding.

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5).

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:4).

A Sabbath rest is found in the sheltering with brothers and sisters.

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25).

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47).

A Sabbath rest is found in the lifting up of heads.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2).

“But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.” (Psalm 3:3-4).

A Sabbath rest is found in the waiting.

“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18).

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1).

A Sabbath rest is found in an open mouth.

“‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.’” (Psalm 81:10).

“The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” (Isaiah 50:4).

A Sabbath rest is found in the filling.

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:9).

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’” (John 6:35).

A Sabbath rest is found in an eventual launching.

“‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Hiding. Sheltering. Lifting. Waiting. Opening. Filling. Launching.

The posture of a Sabbath rest. Not requirements and regulations. Simply a lying down for a day so that a rising up for tomorrow can find its wings and take flight.

I am tired, friends, and I am in need. How about you? How long has it been since you have found your Sabbath’s rest? Would you allow the Robins, along with the Word of God, to be the compass that leads you there this weekend? Next week belongs to next. God’s Sabbath belongs to our today, and so I pray…

Take us there, Lord, to a place of rest and consecration underneath the shelter of your wings. Surround us with the care and comfort of your people as we rest. Lift our heads from our temporal and focus our eyes on your eternal. Teach us the patience of a sacred waiting. Feed us, Father, for we are hungry for your Word. Fill us, Jesus, for you alone can satisfy the craving of our souls. And when our rest is full and finished…complete and more than enough…breathe your breath to launch us into a world that needs to find its sacred pause. Amen.

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PS: I want to hear about your Sabbath rest this weekend! If you’re like me, the summer promises to be a busy one. I want to invite you all back next week, when I hope to begin a new mini-Bible study called “Raising Faith.” Hope to. A well-intentioned thought and a big dream considering that I now have four underfoot for the summer! I’ll have to squeeze in posts when I can.

And for those of you who will be nesting in worship with me this Sabbath? You’re in for a big treat. There has been a wonderful P.S. to Billy’s sermon last week! You will be awed and stunned by the faithfulness of our great, big God. See you Sunday.

Copyright © May 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

25 Responses to Posturing Our Hearts for a Sabbath Rest

  1. My mother, who now resides in heaven, was the quintessential doer. Fastidious, orderly, purposeful – she spent the majority of her life devoted to all things domestic. This, then, is my legacy. However, I have chosen (heavy on “chosen”) to take a slightly different course.

    I have learned to take five (sometimes I take 235). When children are around, dishes can wait. When friends come to call the yardwork goes unnoticed. When the Lord summons, all else fades. I get better at it as I age – probably BECAUSE of age. Sometimes arthritis is my reminder – telling me that life is all too rapdily sapping the vigor from my very bones. Best I sit awhile …

    Since He is Lord of the Sabbath, every day contains a rest that refreshes if I’ll just allow it.

    Besides, Sabbath’s retreat provides for cherishing times in which penetrating thoughts or enrichening relationships grow deep in the soil of my soul.

    Be blessed,

  2. Elaine, thank-you for the beautiful and gentle reminder of God’s design for our Sabbath Rest.
    The tyranny of the urgent so often pulls us away from the pause that we need and long for; a pause that Christ Himself partook so often as our example.

    For me, a Sabbath Rest is found in Obedience. Long ago on tablets of stone, God commanded that the Sabbath be for worship and for rest.

    Wrestling with the call to do, while needing the surrender to be. Resting with and in Him,
    PS. Wish I was nesting with you tomorrow. You have me excited to hear the God story of faithfulness. Can’t wait to read your “Raising Faith” series – especially knowing that quite literally in just 20 days, God is going to lift my faith with Him as I fly in His arms.

  3. Chaotic living is my norm as well! Thanks for the reminder to be still and know…

  4. Talk about a timely word! I’m so glad to came upon your blog.

    Hi Elaine! My name is Kennisha and I came upon your blog from Mary DeMuth’s wanna be published blog. I wanted to leave a note of encouragement to you- and I come out of your blog beyond encouraged to get rest. Does rest even exist anymore for me? Please tell me there’s hope for a new stay at home mommy to a 10 month old! Yikes! I haven’t had sleep since I was 5 months pregnant! And he’s teething- Lord help me!

    But on a serious tip, I echo your feelings about publishing! I’m working on my first novel and am about to send off a book proposal soon (my first) and so far this writing industry seems very unfair. Only the peace of God helps me keep writing and get through it. I often hear tales of people who waited YEARS before getting things published. I’m praying for a speedy process. It doesn’t have to be that way for everyone of us.

    Well, be encouraged in the Lord- which by judging from your blog, I can see that you are. God is guiding our footsteps and is taking us where he wants us to go with the world of writing!

    I Love Your Blog!

    God Bless,

  5. Kennisha:
    Thanks for your kind words. I’ve tried to access your blog by clicking on your name, both here and at Mary’s site. No luck. I wanted to respond back, so send me an e-mail on my sidebar if you so desire.

    Hang in their momma! My oldest is 19 and my youngest is 5. I haven’t slept in years, but you get used to it. I promise! I’d love to chat with you further about the proposal process, etc.

    Look forward to hearing from you.


  6. Elaine,

    Once again, I’ve come here and have been so blessed, always a word in season. I’m so grateful to have found your blog. You are amazing!

    One of my deepest disires as a Christian is to enter into that rest…


  7. Hey Elaine well from your visit with me this morning you know that I needed this word. Our Preacher’s wife has asked me to help her with the Summer fellowship for the Ladies Ministry. Her thoughts were to do a theme of “Relax.Relate.Rejuvenate.” How, timely indeed. I would love to join you for a Sabbath Rest. Look forward to the new study!!!

  8. I some times forget that it is, indeed, a command. Rest is not just a good idea.
    I have hit a wall of fatigue myself… 🙂 Thank you Lord for rest. I anticipate a mind set of rest and a sweet accepting of God’s peace tonight and tomorrow.

  9. Elaine – Wow. I will definitely have to come back to read more from this post. This past week I have just finished my skeleton outline on Hebrews 4 for a women’s retreat I’m giving in the fall regarding the Sabbath rest – what we can have now as well as for eternity. 🙂 Pretty cool that I stopped by here today.

  10. I think Sabbath day ought to be a rest day for all involved. Commercially it is the pits. I have worked on Sunday in the past as far back as I can remember. It’s all about the money! And who do they think our source of this money is. I know God will bless them the other 6 days if they just trust and have faith in him and REST on HIS day!

  11. Beautiful, once again.

    But what do you think about ‘going out to eat’ on the Sabbath???? hmmm. We always do, but that makes others work. But they would be working regardless, eh? Oh, dear. These are the things that keep me up on nights when my mind goes on roller coasters after rich coffee and strudel during a scary movie….


  12. Elaine: Thanks for the beautiful perspective on Sabbath rest.

    I attend a Sabbath Keeping church which is quite small and have observed a weekly Sabbath ever since I can remember. I know of some who have made the Sabbath such a burden through their strict rules of observance, but thankfully in my family it was never made to be a burden, it was always a time of resting from weekly ativity and focusing on Our God, Our creator.

    Since I am reading this the day after my Sabbath, I wanted to share how my Sabbath went yesterday.

    I got to sleep in until 7:00 a.m. which in itself is an anticipated blessing. 🙂 I rise and have my quiet time and a little extra leisure time in prayer.

    Prepared some simple dihes to take for the fellowship meal after services. (We have a small group so each Sabbath those that want to stay and have lunch and fellowship after the service).

    Went to church and had a lively Bible Class and then a wonderful praise prayer time and preaching service.

    After services we visited, got lunch ready and sat around the tables visiting and fellowshipping with several who stayed.

    After fellowship I came home, worked on my Psalms of Ascent study and then took a nap. 🙂

    I don’t have children so I’m sure life doesn’t get that tranquil for those who do, but for this work-a-holic, this is truely a welcome and anticipated end for the week.

    It is something I have to purpose to do, or it would never happen. I like to be busy, but I treasure the Sabbath Rest. Our Father so knows what He is doing.


  13. Hi Elaine:
    Thanks for posting. In response to your question I’ll try to explain how a Sabbath Keeping church is different. Keeping in mind there are many “Sabbath Keeping Churches” and I am only speaking on behalf of mine.

    Although all churches probably have the intent of being “Sabbath Keeping”, this term usually infers a church that holds services on Saturday. Saturday being the 7th Day of the week.

    For our church our differences would be that:
    1. We attend church on Saturday.
    We combine spritual and physical in keeping the Sabbath.
    2. Generally speaking we do not work at our job on the Sabbath.
    3. We do not go out to eat, shopping (buying/selling) on the Sabbath.
    4. We focus the whole day on prayer, fellowship, Bible Study, Praise and physical rest.
    5. We also use this time to help others in need or by visiting with those who are sick or house bound.

    We are a little more firm about what we allow to interfere with the Sabbath than most churches who worship on the Lord’s Day.

    I have seen abuses of keeping the Sabbath as I grew up in the church. I have seen parents who wouldn’t allow their children to play on the Sabbath. Making a 6 year old sit on a sofa in the living room and listen to their father drone on for hours of “Sabbath devotional” does not make the Sabbath a delight for the child nor I might add for the Mother. However, that was not my experience growing up thankfully.

    I am blessed in the church I attend. We recoginize that for children, play is how they fellowship. We provide stories, games for them to play and our children have free time to just go out and play and be imaginative. No soccer practice or games they have to rush to, no homework they have to get done, no school day; just worship and play.

    For us it is a very relaxed time. Because we are a small church we do not have services several times a day that our pastor must prepare for. Our group is small enough that we all take on the responsibilities of the church, watching out for each other and visitation. We have laymen that speak as well so our pastor doesn’t have to speak every Sabbath. He gets to rest as well.

    Here is the address to our church website in case you might be interested in knowing more on the nitty gritty of our “distinctives/doctrines”.
    (The venus is for Venus, TX not the planet):)

    Thanks for inviting me to share. I hope you all had a blessed Sabbath Rest.


  14. What great words today – so needed. We need to wait upon the Lord and open our mouths to recieve from Him.

    I appreciated your comments at the cafe. It’s good to hear other’s express their purpose in blogging. I struggle with doing it sometimes for the wrong reasons instead of just for Jesus.

  15. Hi Elaine! Wonderful words of encouragement. It’s so hard to remember to find that Sabbath rest when you are in ministry, which makes for tired, run-down servants. Not the best way that we can serve Him, huh?

    Looking forward to your mini-study! Have a blessed day!

  16. Elaine…I just stopped by for
    “Peace for the Journey” ’cause it has been so long since I did…
    visit you and your blog…and I’m so glad I did…For I found REST and an excellent, truly inspirational “Posturing Our Hearts for a Sabbath Rest”!

    Do you ever feel God just leads you to where HE wants you to be blessed reading?

    I loved the photo and your eloquent description…and each and every word simply aMazing!

    I have been so blessed, now I must REST! Many of the comments were wonderful also but I try not to read them so as not to influence mine and that I respond first than relish what others have said.

    So, I will go out in the hammock if it’s not too hot and rest, listen for the bird’s or put some peaceful worship music and think of HIM! I can’t read more of HIS WORD cause that would take me out of REST and stir me to pray again!

    Be blessed for having truly blessed me with these words, Peggy

  17. RYC-We think we will be moving in the area of Maggie Valley, N.C. Not sure yet exactly where we are just waiting on God.

  18. Elaine…just a brief P.S.
    where do I find Preacher Billy’s sermon or the P.S. you mentioned?

    Thanks…I’ll be back!
    Peace in Christ…Peggy

  19. Thank you Elaine for this message. It’s one that I really need to read and take action on. Sundays are sometimes my busiest and most exhausting day instead of being a day of rest! I think it would be good to take another day….or even half a day….some other time in the week and just let everything else go and REST and think about things of the Lord.

    I hope you have a great week!

  20. Beautiful post Elaine. A great reminder to us all!

    Thanks for your many wise words on my blog and for your prayers. I can’t wait to meet you at She Speaks!

    Can you believe it is less than 3 weeks away???

  21. I must say that Billy’s sermon today was awesome. I do not believe there was a dry eye in the house. What a wonderful testimony to being obedient to our father when he speaks to our heart. I am sure we all know of someone we could minister to and witness to. God’s timing is perfect if we will just listen when he speaks. AMEN!

  22. Such an inspiration! My Sabbath days are filled with work as well. It seems there is never a Sunday whereby I just rest in my Father’s arms. It seems I am too busy with this and that. Thank you for the reminder to diligently take time to rest in the coming Sabbaths.

    Prayers and Blessings!

  23. Thanks so much Elaine for the reminder on Sabbath rest. Working third shift three days a week and homeschooling my children left me drained and exhausted. What a difference it made when I realized that rest was not suppose to be a luxury… it is a requirement. I changed my mindset on rest. I long for my Sunday afternoon naps. There is not much that will keep me from resting then.

    Thanks so much for all the encouragement that you give to us.

  24. Hi Elaine, I’ve only just found your blog but certainly found the one today most appropriate for me. Isn’t it wonderful how God so often sends us a word specific to us but through the distribution to many? In our second year of a four year Bible study at our church this year, my husband and I found eye-opening revelations about the Sabbath. It changed our thinking and our way of life. Certainly the Sabbath is our day to worship in fellowship with others, but it also became our day of rest. I quit “I’ll just do one load of laundry” and he quit “maybe I’ll just get a head start on the weed eating this afternoon.” We quit doing our weekly grocery shopping on the way home from church. Well, you get the drift. It truly became a day of rest and reflection and rejuvenation. Our God is always pointing the way to a better way of living for us, if we will only listen. Thanks for the reminder and the validation.

  25. We honestly do have some friends who have the last name “Robins.” I smiled.

    as always –
    beautiful, my friend

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