Day 3 – Rest and Sabbath
By: Brian Crenshaw
Many of you are likely familiar with the successful Netflix show “Stranger Things”. While I do not recommend it for certain ages nor without parents first screening it, I think it has many beautiful gospel themes: good versus evil, spiritual gifts, community, teens working with adults to defeat evil, humor, a resurrected life in Will Byers (sort of) and The Snow Ball Winter Dance which is so great on many levels. In this show, Will Byers is living in a family that has gone through a divorce. He lives with his mother and brother in fictional, semi-rural Hawkins, Indiana. Outside of his house, he has a fort in the woods called Castle Byers, a sort-of treehouse/makeshift fort made of branches and tarps. It has a thrown-together bed of blankets, some items from his house, things to remind him of home, yet it is a place that isn’t home. It is a place he retreats to for fun, but also to be away from home when things aren’t how they should be. He also retreats there in another dimension while running from a monster (long story), it is a place of safety and a place that he can recalibrate and renew…a place set-aside for him to go amidst a crazy world.
One piece of Rest that God has given us that is a place set aside, something that is partly home and partly “other dimension” is the Sabbath. It is a day set aside to be holy, to not only “vacate from work, but to delight in God, his people and things he has given us” (Paraphrased Dr. Dan Allender “The Sabbath”)
I had a conversation with a student this past year who was struggling and commented to them, “you need a Castle Byers,” which we sort of both laughed at because they understood the Stranger Things reference. But this student did not have a physical place in which they could go and retreat. That is something they are working on finding…as am I.
What about you? Do you have a Castle Byers? Do you have a place here in this physical world to retreat to when life is not how things should be? Or even when life is excellent, a place set aside to go and be in God’s presence? As one author that escapes my memory writes, “the veil of earth and heaven is never as thin as it is on the Sabbath” Where do you go to sit before this thin veil and see shadows of heaven?
Many of us may struggle to find a place that is set aside that we can go to and be formed and be out of the world for a moment.
While we may have a place that is our “Castle Byers” to retreat to (a hammock, a coffee shop, a comfy chair in another room, or a vacation spot) we all have a literal, physical day to have as a Castle Byers, a gift God has given us to be a weekly Castle Byers…A day set aside to retreat, a land to journey, a maze to explore, a Gethsemane that sits at the end/beginning of our week to commune with God and his people. God has gifted to us, in Sabbath, a place to hide from stress, chaos, and monsters of this world.
The Sabbath is a day set aside to rest. God initiated this at creation and calls us into it. We aren’t to be controlled by it or see it in a legalistic way (Jesus himself says that Sabbath is created for man, not man for the Sabbath), but we also aren’t supposed to neglect it. A day set aside to abstain from work, but even more to enter into a day of delight, a day of heaven on earth, a day in which we as Christians also assemble with other believers to worship. The Sabbath is a micro reflection of heaven.
Some thoughts to consider:
What is confusing about a Sabbath?
If Jesus is our better Sabbath, should we still observe a literal day?
Does taking a Sabbath feel restrictive or freeing to you? Why?
Dr. Dan Allender discusses the 10 Commandments and honoring the Sabbath. He states that “the Sabbath is the bridge between the first three commandments that focus on God, to the final five, which concentrate on our relationship with others” It connects us to God and others. It is like a portal connecting our relationship with God to our relationship with the world. The Sabbath is more than abstaining from work. It is enjoying the life that God has given us, it is enjoying the people God has put in our lives, and it is enjoying God himself. We escape the world for a day, like going up a mountain to get a different view and coming back down, ready to engage that world for another six days.
In a world that is often not as it should be, we are called to be people who are formed or forged into people who God has designed us to be. This formation is difficult, and often this weary world is the instrument of formation for us. The Sabbath is a place to put aside the refinement the world can painfully bring and welcome in the formation that delight and goodness can bring.
Talk with your family and friends and come up with what you think a true Sabbath for you could look like.