God knows our brains notice and need repetition to learn new things. I take note of things that come into my field of vision or into my thinking repeatedly, as I feel it is a message I need for encouragement or change. Has that happened to you?
For me to truly notice a particular message, it takes at least three times for the same theme to occur. I think it takes that many times for my brain to signal to me, “Hey, this is important. What is going on?”
What was the message?
My latest three-time message revolved around the spiritual practice of the Sabbath. I was reminded about the practice of the Sabbath by my pastor as he encouraged us to pull away to listen to God. He suggested the book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, which I ordered right away. Something about the longing for rest in my heart had me getting that book immediately.
Sabbath, which in Hebrew is Shabbat, meaning rest, is a spiritual practice of taking one day of the week to rest, praise God, worship, enjoy family and take in what He has for you.
The practice of the Sabbath in Biblical times started from Friday evening to Saturday evening. Then moved to Sundays after the resurrection of Christ. However, the day of the week is not as important as the practice. Of course, pastors and those who work on Sundays, can’t practice Sabbath on Sundays. They choose a different day to pull apart from the hustle and bustle of the everyday work world.
The importance is to give yourself permission to rest so that you are revived for work, not crashing from work.
What happened next?
Since God knew my brain needed more than one prompting, He reminded me I had a book that had been sitting by my bedside for more than a year, entitled Sabbath Keeping by Lynne M Baab. Guess I hadn’t been in the right place to take in the commandment to rest.
It is what God calls us to do, in the 4th commandment
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. Exodus 20:8-11 NLT
What strikes me about this commandment is that the Lord rested. It isn’t that He was tired, but that He took time to survey all He had done and delighted in it. It’s not the legalistic set of rules that I feel I grew up with but the invitation to delight in Him and enjoy being with Him and truly allowing myself to rest.
The third noticing was when?
As noted previously, God repeats things for our brains to notice His messages. The third notice was in the book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. In the book, the author, John Mark Comer, talks about how his life changed by incorporating the Sabbath with his wife and young children, even as a pastor.
I appreciated his concrete examples of what a Sabbath could look like, including disengaging from electronics, which is a challenge to me. Since I am writing my book, sharing thoughts on my blog, and communicating via Facebook, I find electronics to be a black hole of time. I want to take the Sabbath challenge of electronics-free, which is something I feel is an encouragement to me from God.
By reading this book, God got my attention for the Sabbath practice.
What did I do?
With three noticings like that, plus a week of tiredness and migraine headaches, God’s time was perfect for me to be ready to make a change. It was God’s direct invitation to spend time with Him.
My first Sabbath this past Sunday included:
- Worship online
- Reading a good book
- Time spent in conversations with my husband
- Fun TV watching with my husband
- Zoom time with my extended family
- Menu planning and grocery list for the week
What I felt as I started the day was relief in my body as I gave myself permission to rest. I found that sensation intriguing and one worth more exploration. Do I feel it was a perfect Sabbath? No way. However, it was baby steps and I can’t wait to get to next Sunday. I am so grateful for God’s repetitive encouragement.
What about you?
Have you had that happen to you where you notice three or more times something comes up in your prayer time, Bible reading, or even something you are listening to that you sense is just for you? Have you considered that it could be God wanting to get your attention?
When you get that kind of message what do you do?
In Psalm 32:8, NLT
“The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
He’s there to give each of us just the right repetitive encouragement we need when we need it. I need the Sabbath. What do you need?
As a spiritual director, I walk with people who want to hear and see God more clearly in their lives. If this post is helpful to you, could you share it with others? Or if there is a way that I can be praying specifically for you, would you reply to this post? I want to be of service to you in your life and the lives of others. I look forward to walking with you in the world “for such a time as this.”