Friday, May 18, 2012

Scary Words, Scary Concepts

Hermeneutics, apologetics, and justification ~ these (among others) were scary words for me. But back when my relationship with Jesus was in its infancy, Bible was a scary word. I was enrolled at a church affiliated liberal arts college that required three religion courses of their students. I was avoiding those classes like the plague. I knew little about the Bible and I was trying to keep that fact well-hidden. I mean, how embarrassing.

While attending church one Sunday in the fall of my sophomore year, I heard something new—something that made a lot of sense—Christianity is more than a religion; being a Christian meant I had a personal relationship with Jesus. John 1:12 was key to my understanding, it was not just believing in God, it was receiving Him as my savior and as my friend.

When I returned to the dorm that evening, my girlfriend introduced me to the Bible study she was a part of. It was a fill-in-the-blank format. It wasn’t intimidating. I joined. That was the beginning of my journey of losing my fear of the Bible.

The relationship—that led to the Bible study—was the baby steps I needed to overcome my fear of the Bible.

Sabbath was not a scary word for me, but it was a scary concept. I needed some baby steps. Those baby steps started long before I ever went to college. I grew up in a blue law town—all the businesses were closed on Sundays. Before I had any understanding of Sabbath, I knew there was something special about Sundays. To this day, my home town remains a blue law town. Sunday was also the day we visited Grandma. I didn’t connect that to Sabbath, it was just what happened on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes we do more right by accident than by design.

As I grew in my understanding of Sabbath, two words came to the surface: cease and celebrate. Cease whatever it is that defines my normal activity for the purpose of focusing on God—intentionally creating time and space for Him. For a long time, I thought that was the entirety of Sabbath—spending long amounts of time reading my Bible and praying. I’m learning; focusing on God is an important element of Sabbath; and celebrating is too. Ceasing those everyday activities also leaves room for those we love and other activities we love—the celebration part.

Each spring, my husband and I take a Sabbath vacation. Hmmmm, I never called them that before, but that is what they are. This year we have rented a home in the mountains. For a full week, we are ceasing and celebrating. In the mornings, we will go our own way to enjoy an uninterrupted time of being with God. About lunch time we will come back together for the afternoon and evening. We’ll hike, or peruse the shops in town (including the ice cream parlor), maybe play Scrabble; we’ll relax together. We find it refueling, and restorative. We did not start these forays thinking of Sabbath. We accidentally tripped into a wonderful Sabbath tradition. Sabbath is changing for me—from scary to inviting.

What do times of Sabbath look like for you?

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”.
Mark 23:27

For other Sabbath thoughts, read The Rubberband Ball, my post from September 28, 2011.

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