The Refiner’s Fire: Why Sabbath is Hard and Why We Should Try it Anyway

What Do You Do #ForSabbathsSake? Guest Blog Series Conclusion

This summer, when I began the “What do you do, #ForSabbathsSake?” Guest Blog Series, I had no idea what would emerge.

Thirteen guest bloggers and three months later, we have a treasure trove of stories, confessions, tips, and wisdom from real-life (fledgling and expert) sabbath-keepers.

In each of their unique voices and styles, the guest bloggers shared the challenges they met when thinking about and stepping out of the ordinary and into what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel calls “the palace in time.”

Week after week, their threads wove together a beautiful tapestry: sabbath is needed, but not intuitive; it’s affirming, but also ego-effacing; it’s both sacred and scary.

I walked away with this message: the refiner’s fire is hot, sweaty, messy, and hard—but the gold that emerges from the “work” of sabbath is bright and beautiful—and valuable beyond measure.

Do you want to dive into sabbath, but you’re not sure where to start? Begin with these gold nuggets:

Melanie Weldon-Soiset:As I looked at the long list of items in front of me, I asked myself God’s question:  did God ask me to do this?  If not, I deleted the task.  I sighed with relief as the list became much shorter.  And I felt my heart softening so I could better love myself and in turn, better love others.”  [Read more here.]

Kristel Clayville: “I’ve realized that sabbath is not a state of complete rest, but rather a practice of moderation and supportive care that is sustainable.” [Read more here.]

Sharon Seyfarth Garner: “I need sabbath. No, let me reword that, I want sabbath. I long for sabbath. I crave silence and stillness. Without the constant cacophony of the cyber sounds, I am able to listen just a bit more closely for the still, small voice of God.” [Read more here.]

Ben Swihart: “Searching for sabbath cannot mean we simply minimize it to the rest after a project is completed.” [Read more here.]

Beth Kissileff: “I love knowing that I am free to be myself and be with the people around me for that designated time, and that I am not lazy or slacking off if I refrain from being productive for a day. Rather, I am resting in honor of creation.” [Read more here.]

Michael Williams: “Any activity can become a sacred act if we are fully present in it; preaching or praying, singing or storytelling, making music, or making love.” [Read more here.]

John Van Sloten: “Looking back, my fall from sabbath grace was incremental. I’d take on just one more work project. I’d choose to end my Monday sabbath times at 6:00 pm instead of waiting until the next morning…I’d check my phone just one more time, and then one more time again…Of course I didn’t see the crash coming.” [Read more here.]

Kate Holbein Rademacher: “There is a lot to metabolize in this life. What we read about in the news, the challenges our loved ones face, the obstacles and opportunities in our own lives…And I’ve found that a sabbath practice is one of the best and most reliable tools to help me metabolize it all.” [Read more here.]

LeeAnn Machosky Pomrenke: “I cannot wait for a day of sabbath at the end/beginning of a week. I need it every day, twice a day, actually. Nap time and early kid bedtimes are sacred at our house.” [Read more here.]

Missy Buchanan: “I learned that it is easy for sabbath to be swallowed up in the activity of Sunday. I also discovered that church activities are not the same as sabbath rest and renewal.” [Read more here.]

Rosalind Hughes: “I regularly lack the capacity, imagination and, let’s face it, the discipline to step beyond the immediate demands of every day to find the sacred dimension that is sabbath.” [Read more here.]

Brad Mitchell: “My body and spirit scream for the rest, and I do my best to silence them. I hear that God did not give us rest just because he wanted to challenge us. He did it because it was vital for our lives.”  [Read more here.]

Whitney Rushlow Simpson: “Why is it sometimes hard to abstain from work?…How do I step away from ‘work’ and lean in to my own soul care?” [Read more here.]

Remember: Give yourself permission to find sabbath whenever, wherever, and however you can. May these posts and nuggets inspire you and guide you as you mine the gold within.

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