By Cam Roxburgh
The Lake District in England is a “thin place” for me. The likes of Wordsworth and Coleridge and Southey were all inspired by the beauty and serenity of the place. I hear God speak every time I go.
On one particular occasion as I was walking up a hill (the British think it is a mountain), I heard God tell me to go and sit on a rather large boulder conveniently positioned to look out over the valley below. He proceeded to ask, “Do you trust me?” I responded quickly in the affirmative and got up to continue my trek up this hill. But He was not finished. I was told to sit and ponder this question a little longer. Needless to say, I became keenly aware that I do not fully trust God. I know there is a way to live in the Kingdom of God with a much deeper level of trust in Him.
The past few years I have found myself energized by engagement with the Sabbath. Many Saturday evenings at 6pm (I try for every Saturday but am not always successful), I finish my week and put down my work. It is enough. My family and I will then typically engage in a meal with neighbours and with friends from the church. Around the table we celebrate the previous week and the one who guided us through the week. And do we celebrate! We have great food and conversation. We stop so that we might celebrate that the Lord is good. We tell stories of the week to reflect upon where we have encountered God and the things we have heard Him say to us.
We celebrate, but we also rest. These days, I get to bed fairly early on Saturday evenings. I want to be at my best for our Sunday worship gathering. Around 9:30pm, my wife and I finish the day with prayer together so we will be well rested for the morning. On Sunday we gather with God’s people; we enjoy family lunch and recreation in the afternoon. After dinner on Sunday, I begin to think of the week ahead and pray for God’s presence in all that He guides me to do.
This practice of Sabbath gives life… and it helps me to grow in trust in several ways:
First, Sabbath invites us to trust God through acts of generosity. We come to the gathering on Sunday and give tithes and offerings. I have personally rejected the idea of auto-debit giving as a means of giving to the church. There is something about bringing a cheque on Sunday morning where I physically participate in giving back to the Lord a portion of that which He has entrusted to me. The regular giving of at least a tenth of what I have been given enables me to develop trust in God. He is the author of life, and the provider of all that is good.
Second, the practice of Sabbath helps me to learn to trust Him with my time. In a world that seems to be going faster and faster, I find myself caught up in the pursuit of becoming someone through activity. This is an indication of a lack of trust in Him. The practice of stopping work—of resting and playing—helps me to realize He is God and I am not. We need to rest, to recreate and to be renewed spiritually. These are all good uses of time on the Sabbath that are in line with what God intends. I need to view all time through the lens of the Kingdom of God. Sabbath helps me to trust God with the gift of time.
Third, Sabbath reminds me that He has entrusted me with gifts and abilities for the sake of others. My gifts are not only for my own benefit but the common good, for the body of Christ and for the sake of the world. I come to the gathering of the community of God’s people with something to bring. Money? Yes. Time? Yes. But I also come with a part to play. This gift to God is a response to how He has entrusted me with these skills and gifts for the sake of building up the body. We must get away from the ridiculous idea of paying people to bless others and get back to a more Biblically correct understanding that we all have gifts to bring to the Lord in serving one another. As we—the body of Christ—grow to maturity, we do indeed worship God and love our neighbor. Our gifts are for the sake of the world: that is what it means to be on mission.
There is more, but this will hopefully have encouraged you to look again at the value of the practice of the Sabbath. It is a practice that cultivates trust in the Lord. How is your congregation engaged in the practice of Sabbath? Do you trust Him enough?
Cam Roxburgh is the National Director for Forge Canada, the VP of Missional Initiatives for the North American Baptists, and the Team Leader at Southside Community Church in Vancouver, Canada. He lives in Surrey, British Columbia with his wife and four children. firstname.lastname@example.org