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Sabbath Ceasing and Listening

"You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you." (Exodus 31:13, NAS95)

Sabbaths—plural—indicates a regular rhythm for the Israelites. While I used to think of sabbath as rest, today I think more in terms of ceasing, stopping and listening. Sabbath calls us to recognize the One Who sustains us, along with the entire universe.

Early in my walk with Jesus, I would take an annual day with the Lord. I don’t remember when I started, but I do remember that my practice of it had little to do with ceasing and listening and much more to do with agenda, effort, and planning. At the time I suffered from an acute affliction of arrogance. In retrospect, those days had more to do with validating my spirituality and approving my plans, than any real humility found in listening and letting the Lord set the agenda.

Then one day some years ago, someone just said, "Go, take a walk, and just listen to what the Lord may say to you." I had never tried that. I had never allowed God to set the agenda. If I am really honest, I think I feared that He’d never show up. Then something surprising happened. I heard His presence. I saw His activity. I felt the love that sustains and nurtures the life that I saw all around me at the lake and in the forest. I saw the wind, noticed its effects, its presence, and my heart then thought much on the Holy Spirit. God spoke loudly, but with whispers. My heart was moved.

Many days like this have come and gone since, but the pattern hasn’t changed for me. I head out into nature. I let God set the agenda. I never come away wanting. I hear many things. I am surprised by others, and often He emblazons a verse on my heart that remains for life. No matter what, I always return rejuvenated. I don’t even plan on that; it just happens. One thing I know: sabbaths have fostered an ability to notice God’s activity more readily in the daily context of life. Now when I take a sabbath, cease and listen, I know I’ll hear Him, and I am always touched. It has become a rhythm and a desire to spend a day like this with Jesus.

Warmly in Christ, Doug Mitts

For Reflection:

"Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him." (Psalms 37:7, NAS95)

  1. How would you evaluate your familiarity with God’s interaction with you? How easy is it to recognize?

  2. What might cloud your heart so as to keep you from ceasing and listening when you take a day with God?

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