by Karen Nicholson
Go fix a cup of tea. Turn off all electronics. Sit in your favorite chair. Now, close your eyes and take three slow cleansing breaths.
You have just experienced Shabbat—Hebrew for pausing or ceasing. Didn’t it feel good? In Exodus 16, God showed the Israelites how to change their slave mentalities and enjoy Sabbath—a time of rest to enjoy God’s gifts. God taught them to set limits, find freedom in their busy lives, and ways to develop Sabbath hearts. God took them out of Egypt and its internalized demands. God desired for them to breathe and enjoy Shabbat. Those same lessons are relevant today: God knows it’s not going to be easy!
Are you in bondage to things in your life (family/friends, job, ministries, etc.)? Are you possibly even addicted to being exhausted at day’s end? “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:32). We first have to admit we are overwhelmed with misguided priorities, then we are to obey God and not let blessings become burdens. God made Sabbath the capstone on Day Seven of Creation, and included it in the Ten Commandments. (The Pharisees tried to sacrifice Christ on the altar of their man-made rules as they elevated the Sabbath above the Creator of the day in Matthew 12:1-14. Isn’t that ironic?)
God doesn’t want us to be enslaved. God wants us to have boundaries to free us to enjoy God’s provisions. As women, we need to learn to say “No,” and mean it! To clear our schedules, closets, desks, and so forth, we are saying “Yes” to God and “No” to Satan who delights in our “guilt trips” if we are not in constant motion. We don’t want others following in our footsteps to miss out on God’s riches that are meant to be soul-settling. We want to be great examples to them. This summer, dive into Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study Breathe with a group of friends. Grab a picnic basket and take a hike with your family to enjoy God’s design. Photograph a “gift” from God for your devotional area. Or simply grab a glass of lemonade, go to your front porch, breathe and taste God’s gift of Shabbat, Sabbath.
Karen Nicholson serves as Personal Development Coordinator for West Virginia American Baptist Women’s Ministries. She is married, has two adult children and stays busy homemaking and working part-time at her local YMCA, and is active in her home church in Hurricane, West Virginia.