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Sabbath as a Discipline
  • Formation
  • Prayer
Christina Onwuchekwa

Sabbath as a Nemesis

One of the most loathed activities of the Pre-Kindergarten (4) day is rest time. While there are students who take full advantage of the privilege that is rest time, to the majority, it is the archenemy of the day. Quite naturally, stillness is counterintuitive for a four-year-old. However, as I observe my students in their wrestle with rest, I realize just how relatable this restlessness is in my own life. Stillness is not just counterintuitive for preschoolers. The Bible challenges us in Psalm 46:10 to “be still and know that I am God.” This can be quite the task at any age. 


Sabbath as a Design

Sabbath is derived from the Hebrew word, sabat, meaning to rest. In the context of creation, it is a twenty-four-hour period of rest from labor in awe and appreciation of the marvelous things God has done. In Exodus, it is a commandment from God listed among the ten, spoken and written by God himself on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:8-11, 31:16-18 kjv) described as “a perpetual covenant...a sign between me and the children of Israel forever.” Although creation is the earliest model of Sabbath, this concept of sabbath then ripples throughout all of creation in various forms. Within the construct of time exist constant reminders such as sunrise and sunset, weekdays and weekends. In the miraculous entrance of life, after a woman labors to deliver a child comes the glorious rest that she succumbs to as a form of joyful worship. The cycle of sowing, too, renders a rest as the planter waits in hope for the source of life to complete the unseen work. Even in a court of law the prosecution must rest its case and await the jurors' deliberations. All work must surrender to rest. The very makeup of the human anatomy requires rest for optimal function and wellness, indicating that our spirit also requires sabbath for wholeness. It is the design of our Creator that we pause to recognize He Whom Is Good and worthy of worship and adoration.


Sabbath as a Response

Rest requires release: the release of concern, doubt and fear. The release of all that is outside of our control. Sabbath allows us to release all these into the matchless hands of Abba, our Father, causing our yoke to be easy and our burden to be light once more. Without this practice our mind, body and spirit become weary and begin to break connection to our Source of life, hope and strength. We become unwell. In a state of emergency, we seek immediate relief from comfortable corners that mirage as rest yet prohibit true release and render us stagnate. The practice of surrendering our thoughts and efforts in stillness and prayer is the only way to create a discipline of pausing with gratitude to observe and acknowledge all that God has done. Thanks to my students, I have a frequent reminder to assess whether I embrace this privilege of rest or wrestle fiercely with it. I am reminded that my only mandatory response to the challenges and demands of life is obedience to His command to rest and abide in Him.


Sabbath as a Discipline 

In my own pursuit of sabbath as a practice, I’ve discovered that how you approach a pursuit is significant. Prior to rest time, I close our classroom curtains, light a candle, play soothing music and prepare their mats. Immediately following rest time, the students enter the atrium for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: another opportunity to meditate on the goodness of God. Rituals have the potential to create sacred patterns that align our spirit and mind with proper anticipation. How great is the God of our universe that he would make benefits such as rest and worship mandatory? Are you taking full advantage of this gracious command or wrestling with it? Have you discovered a way of approaching this sacred time that creates anticipation? Though it can be challenging and seemingly impossible in certain seasons of life, Sabbath is a privilege and the command and invitation still stands. May The LORD grant us the wisdom and grace to obey Him in all things. 



Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”

Exodus 20:8-11 NLT


“The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time. It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed.’” When the Lord finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of God.”

Exodus 31:16-18 NLT