If you have spent any time at all immersed in the world of the CiRCE Institute, you know that there is a great emphasis on learning not only to teach from, but to live our lives from, a place of peace and rest. Our God is a God of peace, not anxiety; therefore, our lives should be marked by that same peace. This, of course, seems impossible to those of us caught up in a modern pattern of living marked by unproductive busyness and anxiety. We are busy busy all day long and yet we feel as if we have not accomplished what we should have accomplished and we feel anxious, which compels us to be yet even more busy. It’s a vicious cycle.
How do we break free? How do we reorient our lives and transform our pattern of living? It all starts with the Sabbath, that gift of rest from our Father.
Tempted to think of God’s command for rest as a burden, we frequently forget to be grateful for having a guaranteed day off each week. And we should be tremendously grateful, for one day each week we can be free from the anxiety that plagues us, from the feeling that there is never enough time in a day to get everything done. God actually commands us to take a break. Wow.
Here are some practical suggestions on how to make the Sabbath a day of rest and peace.
1. Preparing for a restful Sunday begins Saturday.
A little planning goes a long way toward making the Sabbath more restful. Prepare Sunday’s meals on Saturday. Fill up your car with gas, lay out church clothes, pack diaper bags, and put everything that you can in the car on Saturday night so that Sunday mornings run more smoothly. The typical hurried, frantic Sunday morning is not the way to prepare our hearts to approach the throne of God.
2. Arrive early for church.
Right alongside being irritated and snappish on Sunday mornings because of a rushed morning routine is feeling anxious and embarrassed because you are late for church. Again, this state hardly orients your heart toward worship. Get there early and spend 15 minutes of silence, preparing your heart, being still before the Lord.
3. Be still after the service.
So many of use struggle with rushing quickly from one activity to another on Sundays, which is antithetical to a state of deliberate rest. Don’t start packing up your belongings during the Benediction, anticipating your next move before this one is even completed. Instead, be still after the service. My church sits in silence for a few minutes after church ends, contemplating and absorbing what we just did. Awkward at first, this practice has set a tone of peace for the rest of our Sunday activities. We no longer rush off to the church kitchen to hurriedly heat up dishes for our fellowship meal. The anxiety has disappeared. A new more restful rhythm reigns instead.
4. Be deliberate about making the Sabbath different from the rest of the week.
I won’t offer you a list of dos and don’ts for the Sabbath, but I do encourage you to make Sundays unique. Refrain from the work and activities that define your week. Be free from the things that make you feel anxious and overwhelmed. Face them rested on Monday morning.
When the Sabbath is ordered, the rest of the week begins to fall into place as well—because deliberate Sabbath rest requires planning ahead. Once we learn to make the Sabbath a respite from the busyness and franticness of our lives, we can begin to transform the rest of the week as well.