Recently I took the red-eye from San Francisco, California to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. As we neared the end of the flight early on Sunday morning, people starting waking up and opening the window shades. I took off my sleep mask and realized that the sun was about to rise over the horizon. I love sunset and sunrise photos. Every time we go on vacation, I try to capture these photos so that I can preserve them and remember the moment later. I prefer aisle seats when I fly so in order to see the rising sun; I had to peak around my fellow passengers in the seats closest to the window. Of course, being the amateur photographer I am, I immediately took out my cell phone to try to capture the beauty that was arising while flying 20,000 feet above. No matter how much I tried to focus and get rid of the distractions that were keeping me from getting the perfect shot, I could not.
Then it occurred to me that I had two choices. I could either continue fiddling with the camera phone or I could choose to simply enjoy the experience and not worry about trying to capture it for later. As much as I wanted to save the moment for later, I decided to enjoy it at the moment.
Earlier this year, I did a study with Priscilla Shirer called Breathe: Making Room for Sabbath. In that study, one of the things she teaches is establishing margins so that you create space for Sabbath. While Sabbath may be traditionally practiced by some on Sunday, Sabbath rest can occur any time. I would even suggest that God will give you Sabbath rest when you need it and when you are willing to receive it. However, to appreciate it, we have to give space to it and rest in it. For someone who’s perpetually restless, Sabbath is hard for me. I like the energy that comes from being productive. But I like Sabbath, too, when I’m in it. It’s the getting in it that I am still working on.
Mark 2:27-28 says that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” For years I lived up the false understanding that Sabbath was something we give to God. After pondering this verse and having many encounters with God about rest and specifically, resting in him, I have come to understand that a Sabbath experience isn’t a law to be obeyed, but instead, it’s an invitation to pause, reflect, and to join God in seeing the gloriousness of His creation. It’s a time to lay down all that troubles you. It’s a time to reset and center. It’s a time to draw closer and re-energize.
Although I don’t have the image on my phone to capture that beautiful sunrise, I have something better. I have that memory of when God met me for a Sabbath experience on a 747 high above the earth in seat 8C. I pray that you slow down, seek, and savor your Sabbath experience as often as you need it, whenever and wherever you need it.