Sabbath Rest: 2000 Sabbaths
by Marilynn Chadwick I am reminded of the time David and I were invited to teach a marriage seminar to a large gathering of young couples. Wanting to focus on real life issues, we each made a separate list of our “Top Ten Marriage Tips.” However, we decided not to reveal the results of our lists to one another until the moment we actually presented the message to our audience. It was fun to compare the different habits, practices, and insights we each felt had strengthened our marriage—right in front of our listeners. When it came time to “reveal” our top marriage tip, it turns out David and I had both chosen the same “Number One Marriage Tip.” It was simply this: Take one day off together every week. In other words, “Keep your Sabbath.” Ironically, this was the very same advice our first ministry-couple mentors had shared with us way back when we were newlyweds. We took their advice to heart and 45 years later, we still take our day off together each week. If you factor it over our 45 years of marriage and ministry, that’s about 2,000 Sabbaths! Sabbath-keeping obviously looks different for our family since ministers typically work on Sunday, the day when many Christians celebrate Sabbath. Our Day Off is Friday. While we don’t adhere to a rigid set of rules, we have landed on some practices which make this day special, fun, even holy. We look forward to our weekly ritual of enjoying our favorite coffee. Parked in a quiet setting surrounded by nature, we share thoughts about our week and read through a few Bible passages. Often, we highlight and journal our specific prayer needs or play worship music. We sometimes laugh and cry about the joys and sorrows of family and ministry. Long walks are a favorite, along with Netflix and special snacks reserved just for Day Off. It’s more about the regularity of Sabbath than any specific ritual. But God seems so very present on those sacred, sanctified, set apart days. Our weekly Day Off is more than just time away from work— it is a “want to,” not a “have to.” A gift of grace. These times build fresh hope and healing. Our weekly Sabbath has provided life-giving boundaries to the rigors of ministry and gives creative space for our marriage and children to flourish. Like many today, our lives are very busy. Ministry comes with unexpected demands and emergencies. But most often, we’re able to keep our Sabbath calm and free from work. We believe our family and church have benefitted from our commitment to this God-ordained, ancient practice. What are some ways you can begin to create a rhythm of rest into your own lifestyle?