When I ask myself the question “Who am I following?” my honest answer in many circumstances would have to be “my culture.” The language I speak, the foods I eat, the way I dress, and so much more, is dictated to me by the time and place in which I live and the patterns of the people who surround me. Following the modeling of a culture is not always a negative thing, but oftentimes we blindly embrace cultural values, even ones that are at odds with the values outlined in Scripture. That’s when we end up with a problem. You see, our worship is largely determined by the values we choose to embrace. It’s easy for our worship to become oriented away from God and toward cultural idols of independence, self-sufficiency, consumerism, greed, and one that may sting a little—busyness.
Parents and kids alike run ragged from activity to activity and get stuck in endless cycles of work, eat, sleep, repeat. We know in our souls that this hurried pace is unsustainable and that spreading ourselves too thin is never worth it. Our busyness leaves us exhausted and without joy, completely spent and yet wondering why we can never quite do enough. We are stuck on a hamster wheel of striving and have no idea how to get off.
In the very first pages of the Bible, we see God model a totally different rhythm of life. He works six days and then rests on the seventh. Later, God calls this practice of a weekly day of rest, “Sabbath.” Jesus reaffirms this idea of Sabbath, and the invitation to practice Sabbath is still open to us today.
As parents, you have a unique opportunity to model Sabbath for your kids. You get to model for them a healthy rhythm of work and rest so they do not grow up embracing the life-sucking idol of overscheduled, frazzled, stressed-out busyness. August is a great time to begin the practice of Sabbath! The “back-to-school” season tends to be an opportunity to establish new rhythms, so as you set the pace for what your family’s schedule will look like this fall, I urge you to begin a weekly practice of Sabbath.
Sabbath doesn’t need to be complicated. In Hebrew, the word we translate as “Sabbath” literally means, “to stop” or “to cease.” The key to practicing Sabbath is to set aside a day where you will do no work. Simply put, a Sabbath is a day to pray and to play! Instead of working, you pray—you refocus your attention on God—and you play—you do things that refresh your soul.
The specifics of Sabbath will look different for everyone. If the idea of Sabbath is new to you, I encourage you to sit down together and brainstorm what it might look like for your family to practice Sabbath. Have each family member choose one activity that would be restful and fun to do on a Sabbath. (One person might want to make pancakes for breakfast, another might want to play at a park for an hour, another might want to cozy up and watch a movie together at night, etc.) Try to incorporate each person’s desired activity into your Sabbath day. Also consider what it might look like for your family to spend some dedicated time with God on your Sabbath. You might decide to go to a church service, or spend some time praying for each other or serving together in a local ministry, etc.)
This day of praying and playing is an act of worship, a day set apart to say, “You are God and I am not. You can run the world without my help.” It’s a day to surrender our desire to be productive, to get off that hamster wheel, and to find our rest in God’s loving embrace.