As I began to write today, the first question that came to mind was, “I live by myself. I have plenty of quiet time. I can take a nap anytime I want. Why do I need a sabbath?” It seemed like a reasonable question. Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to begin with a definition. What, exactly, IS a sabbath?

Very briefly sabbath is this: “a time of rest.” Traditionally, the Jewish people observed the sabbath on the last day of the week (our Saturday). Most of Christianity observes it on the first day of the week (Sunday). The very first example we have of sabbath rest is in Genesis 2:3 – “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” We see from the very beginning, God set apart one day in seven to be a special time of rest and restoration. He had finished all of His creation at that point, and on the seventh day He rested.

In the scriptures we see some clear patterns for rest; we might even call them rhythms. Without going into great detail (you can research if you’re interested), we see daily, weekly, seasonal, annual, and every seven years laid out as basic patterns of rest and restoration. The people, the animals, even the land had opportunity to be rested and restored.

One of the things we talk about in Refocusing Widows is the concept of self-care, and we learn that adequate rest is nearly at the top of the list. Regularly getting 7-8 hours of sleep does a number of things for your body:

  1. Boosts your immune system
  2. Keeps your heart healthy
  3. Helps to maintain a healthy body weight
  4. Reduces stress, and boosts your mood
  5. Improves your brain and memory functions

In the Old Testament we see the pattern of working 6 days and resting 1 day clearly established. In fact, they took it so seriously a person could be stoned for not observing the Sabbath! Even the animals had a day to rest and recuperate. And the other patterns are somewhat self-explanatory, having to do with feasts, festivals, and family.

Some interesting cultural beliefs seem to have invaded our thinking in recent years, however, and most of them are not even biblical!

  1. We see rest as a reward. We can only allow ourselves to rest when our work is all done! How many of us grew up with that training?
  2. Rest is expensive. After all, no one is making money when we’re resting!
  3. It’s selfish to spend money on vacations. Remember all those people who could be helped with that money you spend on your enjoyment?
  4. It’s better to burn out for God than to rust out! Even God doesn’t say that to us!

Perhaps Sabbath has a great deal to do with establishing routines and self-disciplines, or spiritual disciplines. When we live alone, we can easily fall into the trap of doing whatever we feel like at any given moment. The final result is that every day begins to look the same, and eventually we lose interest in life.  Your sabbath time doesn’t necessarily need to be on Sunday if that doesn’t work for you, but it does need to be regular and a designated time to rest and reconnect with God.

Sometimes it takes a healthy dose of reality check for us to realize that we have fallen into some unhealthy patterns of ignoring the Sabbath…much to our personal detriment. I recently had one of those! In fact, also recently, I received a work-related email from a ministry co-worker late on a Sunday evening. Since I wasn’t working at the time, I responded to her, “What are you doing working on the Sabbath?” She laughed and said, “Oh! Thanks for the reminder!”

Sabbath time doesn’t need to be serious. You can include whatever refills your tank for the week to come. Ideally, it will include worship and time with the Lord. But it can also include whatever brings you joy and energy. When we start to think about this, we can also easily fall into a trap of feeling guilty about doing anything besides church on the Sabbath! God’s intent is that we rest from the work we’ve been doing all week long, that we get a change of pace, and that our energy physically, emotionally, and spiritually is restored.

In fact, it’s so important to Him to see us healthy and living an abundant life that Jesus shared the following with His disciples:

“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27)

The intent behind a sabbath rest is that it would be a gift to mankind. That we would be blessed with the time to spend with God, and that we would be refreshed for the next week of work ahead. It’s important for widows to realize that we still need to be intentional about this segment of our time, even though we live alone and totally control our schedules! Perhaps it’s even more challenging to be disciplined and intentional about it than it was before when we had family routines!

Here are some things for you to think about as it relates to your sabbath time:

  • What are the things that you can do to rest and refill during your sabbath?
  • How do you refill? What things bring you joy and energy? What are some barriers that keep you from doing these things?

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome. You can email me at or leave your comments here. I leave you with this thought: Even though the sabbath was made for man, always remember that Jesus is Lord over us AND our sabbath times! Stay connected to Him!

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