Right now, I’m sitting at my house after just having three families over.  Tonight, it was six adults, eight kids, 12 bottles of water, nine soda cans, 18 sandwiches, and 3 bags of Doritos (Nacho Cheese because there is no other kind).  It was small group night at our home.  As always, it was an incredible night with people we love, but it was a long day for me.  Our team traveled to Detroit, which means I spent 8 hours in a van for a 3-hour meeting.  I got home 15 minutes before the small group started and then after helped Emily put Henry to bed.  

This week, I’ve also worked 5 days, written sermons, had simple meetings, had complicated meetings, made decisions, delegated decisions, made decisions I wish I would have delegated, laughed with people, cried with people, and ordered new tires for my car (which was probably the most difficult thing I did - long story). And now I head into the weekend and what I want to do is to keep working and producing.  

My temptation is not to stop.  

My first driving test, I’ll never forget what the person evaluating me said after I almost ran a red light.  She looked at me and said, “The car will keep moving until you choose to put on the brake.  That’s a choice you have to make.”  

She didn’t strike me as the philosophical DMV worker, but she was speaking much broader than my 1994 Dodge Caravan.  The natural flow of our lives isn’t to pause, but rather keep moving.  Many of move until we are forced to stop, but at that point the damage is done.  

This past Sunday, we talked about anxiety and feelings of loneliness and the whole time I’m thinking to myself how deeply those emotions are connected to our inability to stop producing and recharge and renew ourselves.  

You were never created simply to produce.  You were created to be… to live within our world with peace and hope and energy and allow yourself to be fully alive.  But when you don’t stop… when don’t give yourself space for reflection… when you don’t rest… you rob yourself of the opportunity to BE at your best.  God never intended that for you.  

Throughout the writings of scripture there is this principle of the Sabbath.  Sabbath is often referred to as rest and this religious abstinence from work, but it’s more than that.  Sabbath is an intentional interruption from the daily work that we produce.  

Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened…” That is a lot of us and more often that we’d like to admit.  There is the constant pressure to strive for more… to consume more… and to accomplish more, but without the Sabbath we skip our recharging… our renewed energy… and in some ways our ability to be fully present the following week with our best self.  We didn’t stop.  We didn't reset.  We missed the opportunity to allow our mind, our heart, and ultimately our soul to renew itself.  That’s why we feel like we run on empty.  

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

When Jesus talks about this yoke idea, he’s talking about two oxen that are bound together and connected to one another.  Jesus is communicating that rest is found in this deep connection with him and that as we draw closer to him, we discover the rest that we need.

No wonder we feel anxious.  We haven’t created space to reflect and remind ourselves that God is with us.  No wonder we feel alone.  Even within a marriage… or when you’re sitting with friends. Of course, you do… you haven’t allowed yourself to breathe and so you walk into those moments that should be sacred, with a mind full of to-do lists and tasks.  We simply haven’t intentionally interrupted our rhythms to stop and simply be with God. 

Sabbath was never created to rob you of time to be productive.  It allows you space to renew so that you can bring your best to what you do.  

So this week, I think there are 3 things you can do moving into the weekend that can help you move towards a Sabbath.

1.  Do something that brings you energy and makes you feel alive.  

Sometimes people think that Sabbath should look the same for everyone.  I’ve had people tell me what my sabbath time should look like.  The problem?  They don’t know what brings me energy and life.  The idea of sitting and doing nothing for the day actually causes me more angst.  What gives me energy and life on a day of rest is reading a book or finding a creative outlet for myself in music or graphic design (to which I’m a novice in both!).  The other day, I relaxed by sitting down creating a website for a friend.  That may not be at all relaxing to you, but it brought me energy and helped me be more prepared to tackle the demands of my week.  

2.  Designate time to look into eyes, not a screen.

I don’t think you need to throw your phone away or not be on social media.  Too much of anything is too much, but what I do know is that when you take a Sabbath, the focus needs to be on those you love as well.  I struggle with this just as much as anyone with an iPhone, but a goal I have worked hard on is to look into the eyes of my wife Emily and my son Henry when I’m home.  Simply keeping this at the forefront of my mind helps me be more present so that I can receive from those relationships what I need as well as invest in them.  

3.  Create space to do nothing with God.  

For some of you, reading scriptures helps you connect with God.  Others of you, it’s a hike.  Some of you, it’s gathering with the guys at your favorite place and talking life and theology and doubt and dreams.  For me, on my sabbath days I try to create space to acknowledge the unique ways that God is with me so I can connect with Him.  Sometimes that is through having people over and experiencing a deep relationship with others.  Other times, it’s sitting on my porch with coffee.  The trick is that whatever it is should not require something of you, but rather allow you to receive something from Him.  

My prayer for you is that you allow yourself to renew.  It’s that you take that step of faith and acknowledge that intentionally choosing not to produce something, can yield to more focused and excellent production.  I hope you find space to do what makes you come alive, that you look into the eyes of those you care about, and that you simply create space to be with God.   

Sabbath was never created to rob you of time to be productive.  It allows you space to renew so that you can bring your best to what you do.  

This weekend, I pray that you find rest and connection with God. 


Patrick Holden | Lead Pastor

patrick holden