This week for my Six Week Spiritual Growth Journey that I’m doing on Facebook, I talked about Sabbath. In thinking about the benefits of Sabbath, I realized that Sabbath teaches us the very thing that I struggled with most when I was single. It’s something we all often struggle with when we have unmet desires: there’s only so much we can do about it.
Lessons from the Old Testament on Sabbath
One of the reasons God gives us the Sabbath in the first place is so that we can remember that he is ultimately in control. We’re just limited humans trying our best. The first time the word “Sabbath” is used in the Old Testament demonstrates this. In Exodus 16, God tries to teach this to the Israelites through the “object lesson” of manna from heaven. Every day, the Israelites go outside their tents and gather up however much manna they need for the day. If they don’t eat it all, it rots and gets maggots overnight. God is giving them their “daily bread”, just enough for that day.
There’s one exception to this. On the sixth day of the week, God tells them to gather double because no manna will appear on the morning of the seventh day. That’s the Sabbath and God wants them to rest that day. Sure enough, the seventh day comes and there’s no manna on the ground. However, there’s no maggots and no rot that day either. God is showing his power in the lives of the Israelites in a very physical and obvious way.The Israelites can work all they want to. They can gather all the manna they want, but God controls whether it will keep or not.
The Lesson of Sabbath: Everything Is Dependent on God
The same holds true for us today. We work during the week to accomplish our goals and to do the tasks that God has given us. God wants us to work. He doesn’t tell us to Sabbath every day, just one. The rest of the time he expects us to do the tasks he’s given us. That’s why he created us after all, to work and to tend to his creation (Genesis 2:15). However, the Sabbath day, taking a day of rest, reminds us weekly that though we work hard, ultimately our outcome is dependent on God.
Sometimes, this is a hard thing for us to remember. In our work focused, fast paced, success driven, efficient culture we often think that everything depends on us. It’s a sneaky lie that has the appearance of truth, because there is some truth to it. After all, our actions do impact our outcomes. However, God is still ultimately in control.
When I was single, I thought it was all on me to find a spouse. I needed to be praying constantly. I had to make sure I was becoming the kind of person who would attract the right kind of mate. I needed to try my best to make myself attractive inside and out. I had to make sure I was in the kinds of places where I would meet the kind of person I wanted to. If I missed any of these steps, I might miss out on “the one.”
I became disillusioned when nothing happened, even though I did all the “right” things that I thought I was supposed to. I became even more upset when people who were doing it “wrong” were asked out, found steady boyfriends/girlfriends, got engaged, and got married. What was I doing wrong?
The answer was nothing (besides maybe being a little bit judgmental). I had just neglected to learn the lesson of Sabbath. The outcome doesn’t depend on us, it depends 100% on God. In his grace, he gives us things, even when we haven’t earned them. We can and should do our best in our work and in our relationships, but ultimately, it is God that decides the outcome. That’s a good thing. It takes the pressure off of us. Plus he’s a much better planner, storywriter, and decision maker than we are.
Sabbath Trains Us For Life
We celebrate Sabbath because it reminds us of our limits. We’re just humans. We do what we can, but we recognize that God is running the show. There’s no reason for us to constantly worry about what we’ve left undone, what more we could do, or if we’re doing enough. God will take care of it. We’re called to do our best and let God do the rest.
So if you’re single and not exactly loving it and wondering what else you have to do, the answer is nothing. Try your hardest to do what you think God is calling you to do. Go on that blind date. Give online dating a try if you think you should. Try to meet people and form your character into something that will attract someone. In all of it though, remember your limits. You can only do your best. You can’t make someone fall in love with you. You can’t wish someone into proposing to you. You can’t speed up time and skip to the part when you meet that special someone. Your situation is ultimately in God’s hands. This is true whether your unmet desire is for a relationship or something else.
That’s why the practice of Sabbath is important. We rest in God for the small things which helps our trust in him grow. This prepares us for the big things in life. By practicing Sabbath and allowing ourselves to rest, we grow in our ability to trust that God has our best interests in mind. And he does.
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