On your marks, get set, GO….6am grab coffee, make lunches, get the kids to school, tidy up the house, get dressed, go to work, minister to others, help with homework, go to the sporting event, Bible study, small groups, have dinner ready, crash, start over in the morning. I couldn’t possibly recount all the things that are done in your day. You are probably spending most of your time pouring yourself out for others. As a ministry wife, who has time for rest?
As I re-read the ten commandments, the fourth commandment jumps out. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. All the other commandments sound like sin. Don’t have any idols, don’t lie, steal or cheat. We know this. It’s seems more like the Golden Rules of life. So why do we see the Sabbath as a suggestion and not a command?
Why do we see the Sabbath as a suggestion and not a command?
The recipe for a fall comes in the form of self-sufficiency. Do we think God needs us to sustain what He has blessed us with? That sounds holy, right? Just being a good steward. God gave us every command for our own protection. We are being poured out daily and must be refilled. This is the purpose of the Sabbath. Pour out for six days, be refilled on the seventh. God knows how the enemy will spin this for our pain or failure. God knows our frailty.
My family learned a very tough lesson about keeping the Sabbath. After taking on a church “restart”, the church began to grow. We went from one service to two and knew we were out of space. As all building funds begin, along came the building campaign. It was the biggest thing my husband had ever had to lead at this point in ministry. We knew it would take many people buying into the vision God had placed on his heart. It would take a miracle! As the consultants began preparing us for what to expect in pledges and offerings, we knew the task would be great. To our delight, the people gave over and above any expectations. It was time to break ground!
As the building campaign had taken a toll, the building process took an even bigger one. No time to rest. After all, the toughest part was just beginning. In the months ahead we would learn the pressures of building a large project and everything it would entail. Overseeing such a a project like this could wear any person out--mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The season was grind, grind, grind.
God has been so faithful in our ministry journey to bring people of wisdom into our lives. As one of my husband’s mentors reached out, he encouraged him to take a Sabbath when the project was complete. He needed time to get away and be restored. The advice fell on deaf ears. Everything was going so well. Instead of taking heed to the “warning”, he justified the reason he couldn’t rest. Stepping away could cause a loss of momentum. He felt he was driving the ship and, if his hands were taken off the wheel, it may crash. Not knowing this was a form of pride, he stayed the course of “hard work” and became self-sufficient. This is easy for ANY driven person to fall into. It didn’t feel like sin; it actually felt like being a good steward of all God had blessed him with.
When you run yourself into exhaustion and do not take a time of rest, more than likely you will become sick or fall into sin. The enemy knows when we are weak and exhausted. Even if the weariness comes from good works, it still makes the walls of your life cracked and vulnerable. Believe me, attack will come. No one can say how resting could have changed the course of our story. The exhaustion led to sin which lead to loss. The enemy attacked and did as he does…stole and destroyed. Everything that had been worked so hard for was gone in a day.
The enemy will tell you that rest is laziness or irresponsibility. Some people find their worth in what they accomplish, which leads to taking credit for what God is doing. Others don’t want to let anyone down so they allow people to take every ounce of energy they have and never step away to replenish. This guilt and condemnation from yourself or others is a ploy from the enemy. Don’t buy it! The command is "work hard for six days and rest on the seventh!" The Creator of the world set this pattern into place in Genesis. Even Jesus stepped away for solitude. Let’s follow His example!
Our story did not end in destruction. Although life as we knew it changed, God stepped in and restored. The practice of the Sabbath is now holy. Our perspective has changed. We recognize when we need a break. We get away with our family in the summer months to allow God to refresh and restore us. We take a Sabbath day during the week. As we focus on Him and our family, weary souls are revived. Fellow ministers, we have been called to a great task, a heavy task at times. We must guard ourselves and obey the guidelines given to us for our protection. Honor the Sabbath and allow yourself to be filled. You will be a better you when you do. God loves you and wants the very best for you.
Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
The Lie of Self-Sufficiency is Entry Two in our October blog series at Sanctuary, Rest Up! We are looking to hear from you! If you haven't been taking the Sabbath commandment seriously lately, can you name one of the negative side effects you're experiencing? Or perhaps you're experimenting with Sabbath rest and how to do it effectively. What's working for you right now? Let's talk.
Ashley Simmons and her husband, Tim, just Celebrated 21 years of marriage and ministry in July. Tim is Multi-Site Director for Life Fellowship Church (Southaven, MS) and Life Fellowship Church's Hernando Campus Pastor. Ashley is the Hernando Campus Coordinator. The couple has two children: their son, Cole, recently turned 18 in September and their daughter, Kennedy, is 16. "I love what I do and the people in our church. When I am not there, I am cheering on my football and volleyball players most nights. My hobbies are having busy teenagers and enjoying the season that will end soon," says Ashley. Ashley writes frequently for Sanctuary, her most recent post from May 2019.