I don’t know about you but I feel like the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was the shortest 4 weeks in history this year. I know that every year the amount of time between the two stays the same but this year the time flew by even faster than usual. During this season of advent as we wait for the celebration of our Savior’s first coming, we are to be preparing our hearts and waiting with great anticipation as the angels did so many years ago. Yet, that’s certainly not what my life looks like. It never fails. Each and every year I am determined to make this season special, to place special focus on preparing my heart and my children’s hearts for the great celebration of all. I try to cultivate a spirit of patience and stillness and awe of what the Lord has done for us but yet….. No matter how hard I try the season feels too rushed. From Christmas parties to shopping for the perfect gift, we are rushed, over committed and just plain tired!
As I read today’s scripture there is one piece that the Lord spoke to me through without a doubt. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Not because it had anything to do with advent and Christ’s birth but because it was a fantastic reminder that the feelings I have of being unfocused and rushed are not exclusive to this season alone. For me, our family is busy in every season. We are typically over committed in some way or double booked at least 1 out of the 3 weekend days each week (but usually more). The Lord reminded me that there is one very special day each week that HE created for our rest. The Sabbath. He created it for us. For. Us. Sorry to repeat myself but that was for me. A reminder that God knew exactly what he was doing when he created a day of rest. That day is designed for our bodies to rest from the 6 days of hard work. It is a day to be still before the Lord and seek his will for our lives. A day to focus our attention and worship on Him alone in thanksgiving and praise. Yes, the 4th commandment He spoke through Moses is most often overlooked, especially in 2016.
Even long ago, Nehemiah knew saw that this day that was to be kept Holy was instead being treated like any other day of the week. He could see the people were continuing about their usual work instead of taking their time to rest and reflect. So he took great measures to ensure the people followed the Lord’s command.
“When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day. Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Nehemiah 13:19-22 (NIV)
Nehemiah was protecting his people from themselves and others who were leading Israel astray from keeping the Sabbath day holy. Like him, I need set up safeguards for myself and my family to set aside time each week that provides us with rest and refreshment. If I don’t do this now, my children will learn the rat race that our culture is so used to. The Sabbath was made FOR us, not us for the Sabbath. It was to keep us well both physically and spiritually.
During this season of advent and every week during the year, may we be still before the Lord our God our Maker! May we put down our cell phones, I-pads and office work and place our focus on Jesus, the greatest gift we could ever receive!
Lord, help us guard our hearts and minds during this season and in every season. Help us to live in the world but not be of the world. Help us take advantage of the special time you created for us and special moments resting and reflecting on who you are and what you have done for us. Amen.