I was quite young when I read The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I still remember how Laura and her family kept the Sabbath. The girls couldn’t play with anything and I think they were only allowed to read the Bible. It sounded so boring to me and I was so glad my parents didn’t make us do that.
In reality, I’ve always loved Sundays. I may have been a little bored in church when I was little, but I liked Sunday School and as an adult I’ve loved worship and learning and fellowship. The afternoons have always had a quiet peace that’s not quite like other days. Meals are different, there’s nothing that needs to be done and often we go back to church in the evening. But we also watch football or baseball or spend some time with friends. Is that how God wants us to keep the Sabbath?
What does it mean to keep a day holy?
Make it a day of rest dedicated to the Lord my God.
The obvious answer is to not do work, like Laura’s family. But if my rest is dedicated to the Lord, shouldn’t my recreation be different too?
The key words in this passage are ordinary and dedicated; ordinary work and dedicated rest
God has given me six days for ordinary work. That’s when I follow my regular schedule of things that need to be done and things I want to do. That’s when I clean house, cook, teach, shop and exercise. But that’s also when I garden, write, read, watch TV, play games and socialize.
These are my ordinary work.
God asked me to dedicate one day to Him. On that day I should rest from my regular schedule so I can focus my attention, thoughts, emotions, time and energy on the Lord. This is when I go to church.
This is my dedicated rest.
Sunday is different. But I know the whole day is not dedicated to Him. I do rest from my regular work but is my rest dedicated to the Lord? Somehow I don’t think watching the Patriots for three hours is quite what He had in mind. On the other hand, I don’t want to be a legalist like Laura’s parents. But I do want to please the One who gave me the Sabbath. I don’t think I completely understand what God intends for this special day. Or else (which is more likely) I know what He intends but I’m not willing to give up some of the things I enjoy doing on Sundays. This is a matter of prayer for me.
One thing I know; He wants me to dedicate myself to Him whether I’m resting or doing ordinary work. I belong to Him in all circumstances.