The Boundary of Sabbath
Boundaries are best and simply understood by saying what is okay and what is not okay for you.
Healthy boundaries are established and held in order to set you free from the burden of trying to control others, or from being controlled by another person.
Healthy boundaries acknowledge your own limits, recognizing you are not limitless in your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual capacities. Within this thought, the rhythm of Sabbath-keeping can be seen as a gift and boundary from God to remind us of these limits we have as human beings. Whether or not we take time to relax for 24 hours each week reveals so much about how we see ourselves and our capacities. If we go on and on without rest, it will take a great toll on us and our loved ones.
We must acknowledge we need the boundary of Sabbath for the care and keeping of our soul, mind, body, and spirit.
Breaking down our self-reliance, self-determination, and pride is a gift to ourselves and our loved ones. The opposite- NOT setting the healthy boundary of Sabbath- is an exercise in saying, "I can do it all. I can handle it all. I don't need that rest, I don't need that weekly reset, no thanks, God. I've got this."
Keeping the Sabbath is one of the healthiest boundaries you can set for yourself. It's saying:
I have limits, but God is limitless.
I am limited in the responsibilities I can take on, but I can rest in Jesus' easy yoke.
I am limited in what I can control, but God is infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving.
I am limited in my ability to problem solve, but there is no end to God's power and might to solve my problems.
It's an exercise in trust. Letting go of control, worry, and striving for 24 hours, and trusting God with everything.
I recognize this is vastly different than messages like: You can do all things through Christ. Don't put limits on yourself. The only ceiling is the one we make ourselves. Do everything you can to leave a legacy. Those who work hard will prosper.
Obviously, some of these come straight from scripture.
These kinds of motivational verses and sayings have their time and place, but if you are applying these to your life and don't also incorporate Sabbath, you are missing a big part of God's intended rhythm for your week.
Work 6 days, rest 1. Problem-solve 6 days, cease from solving problems for 1. Plan and be wise and savvy with your finances for 6 days, don't think about money for 1. Fine-tune your business plan, your meal prep plan, your calendar appointments for 6 days, and for 1 day a week, let it all go. Play. Rest and reset. Do what you enjoy - outside of your vocation, homework, cleaning, or other forms of work.
This is not saying- go to church all day on Sabbath. Listen to sermons all day. Meditate all day.
Sabbath is simply being free to do what makes you feel free.
I'm calling Sabbath a boundary we must set because it takes intentionality to keep this line drawn that says, "Whether I'm ready or not, Sabbath is here. It's time to rest."
Setting this boundary also says, "I need to rest and play. I need God. God is in control." It's the opposite of self-reliance, self-determination, and pride.
We don't TAKE time for Sabbath when it's convenient, that's the whole point. It comes each week, at the same day and time, and lasts for 24 hours. If a friend is coming for dinner on Saturday night, you would prepare and anticipate his arrival. It's that same spirit of preparation, anticipation, and enjoyment- the Sabbath is here. Welcome.
We set apart one day a week for freedom. We are free from our jobs, chores, homework, or any other work that makes us tired. We are free to do whatever makes us feel free. We are free from bad words and thoughts, and the only thing on our to-do list is “nothing.” We are free from phones, TV’s, and other technology that seem to rule our lives the rest of the week. For one day, we stop trying to fix our problems with money, relationships, or anything else in this world. Is there any other tradition that gives us more hope and helps us become our best selves other than the Sabbath?
Kid-friendly Adaptation from Abraham Heschel's I Asked for Wonder
For more on Sabbath, see
Sabbath Readings Wild Harbor Blogpost
Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge