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Sabbath and Our Terror of Death

Posted on March 20th, 2013

I have been teaching pastors and leaders about Sabbath-keeping for over a decade. Why is it then that so few actually stop to receive this wonderful gift (Mark 2:27)? The root answer lies, I believe, in the place from which we have our sense of self. If our sense of self comes from our work, accomplishments, or ministry, then stopping our work to can be quite terrifying. It touches our deep anxieties about our own deaths. Many of us come carry a great deal of shame, an intensely painful feeling or experience of being flawed. It may come from a background of abuse (as was my history), or a deep well of pain and regret. We feel unworthy of the rich delights and love God offers us in Sabbath. It is easier to just keep working –even if our lives are spinning out of control. Sabbath is about letting ourselves be seen by God. Sabbath is about being deeply loved. Sabbath is about emotional exposure to grace. Sabbath is about grounding our sense of self in our relationship with Him, not our work. This very act of stopping our work helps shape the foundation of our identity in Christ apart from what we do. Pharaoh, the slave driver, remains inside too many of us. Let us throw off his yoke and remember the Sabbath (Deut. 5:12-15). It is time for many of you to begin. Let me invite you to listen to four introductory Sabbath sermons I gave our church to help them begin this liberating spiritual formation practice. And share them with a friend.

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