The Armistice (Sabbatical Sojourning's)

Evelyn and I taking in an evening sunset on Ocracoke Island. (Photo Cred Lenee’ Golden)
 SABBATICAL: a break or change from a normal routine
(A derivative of the word Sabbath, or Shabbat meaning “Rest.” )
And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
(Mark 2:27)

In our current society one of the most greatest needs we have is rest. We drive the preverbal car until the wheels fall off. Even our times “away” are doing things that look less like ceasing and increasingly just more of the same busyness. (If you don’t believe me just visit Disneyland or World, you will see a lot of tired people on vacation.) In our age of multitasking, doing multiple things at once, we are slaves of our own devices. And when I say devices I am referring to our handheld ones as much as I am our philosophies, cultural habits and structures. To our detriment, our cry is for more, and in this pursuit of more, we have lost one of the most vital life giving, life enjoying and life reviewing necessities. We have lost connection with our God given gift of Sabbath.

Cease: Come or Bring to an End.
When confronted about performing healings or his disciples picking wheat heads for sustenance on the sabbath, Jesus responded with the words recorded in Mark, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.”

Unfortunately, in my tradition, we took this critique as Jesus making little of the gift of the sabbath. We saw His response as a minimizing of the need for sabbath and as a release from this “legalistic” pursuit. I mean really, Jesus talked about how he was the sabbath and we just act as though this meant if we are followers of Jesus, we are set free from the sabbath. But is this really what Jesus meant?

In so many ways with so few words I would comment a big fat NO in response to this.

Yes, Jesus was clearly pointing out that the Pharisees had become legalistic in their pursuit of “keeping the sabbath holy.” However, Jesus was not diminishing the value of its goodness for our lives. Like everything else, Jesus was clear we can be so obsessed with creating vehicles of systems that we miss the destination the road is taking us.

In the book “The Sabbath,” written by Joshua Herschel, he makes this statement about the sabbath, “The seventh day is like a palace in time with a kingdom for all. It is not a date but an atmosphere.”

An “Atmosphere.” I like that.

Herschel gives some understanding that the sabbath is an Armistice against striving and an inhabitance of eternal time. We lay our arms down in the fight for more space to enjoy God in His space of time. Time is the thing we are warring against. We all want more, yet it seems as though there is never enough.

In the picture above, Evelyn and I simply sat for the evening and enjoyed the sunset. She is the baby of the family and in so many ways I understand why babies are treated like babies for longer than the others. We are warring against time. I look at our other three and realize how fast time slips away. It cuts to the quick to think of where we will be in the next 5 years. However, there is nothing I can do about this. It is life.

Yet, pictured here is a moment where we simply ceased, laid down our striving for more and simply pressed pause on time. We engaged in the atmosphere of sabbath. This is what Jesus was pointing to. Yes, Jesus is the sabbath, and this should only open our lives to the refreshing we desire to experience. He did not come to release us from Sabbath, but came to give it even more so to us.

Let’s embrace the Armistice. Let’s take time to cease from our striving and enter the atmosphere of an eternal God.
Aaron Golden

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