I grew up thinking of Sabbath as an obligation. I felt obligated, and Sabbath became (to some extent) a duty rather than a delight. One of God's greatest gifts became ruined because something within me twisted it from what it's meant to be.
I know there's a lot of debate about Sabbath and the new covenant, but for the purposes of this post it doesn't matter. What matters is two things. First: Sabbath is still a good idea. Second: God's commands are not burdens but gifts. As Jen Pollock Michel said at Theology Pub the other night, "What's good for God will never be bad for me."
Tomorrow is my Sabbath. I don't do this well every week, but here's some of how seeing Sabbath as a gift has changed my practice.
I anticipate it. Someone said that we should spend three days anticipating our next Sabbath and three days living off of the previous Sabbath. The anticipation and appreciation of Sabbath can shape our weeks.
I let go of obligation. My task list never ends. There's always another meeting, another email, another task. On Sabbath, I let go of all of that. It's time to enjoy all of God's gifts that get squeezed out by the tyranny of having to do more.
I indulge. On Sabbath, I try to find what feeds my soul, and pursue that. Often it's the things that wouldn't fit in my schedule any other day of the week. I take long walks. I see a movie. I visit the bookstore. I read that book that's been gathering dust. I savor God's good gifts.
I rest in God. Sabbath reminds me of my limits. It also reminds me that God is not limited, and that I can rest in Him and enjoy Him. Sabbath reminds me that I have a good Father who delights in giving good gifts to his children.
I'm surprised how many people don't practice something like this. I encourage you to build Sabbath into your life as a gift from God to his people.