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Pondering Shabat



My brain grew a little today!


I learned two new words in Hebrew. I don’t know a lot of Hebrew, so that was a 200% growth rate in one day! I know, you’re pretty impressed, right? Let’s see Einstein do that! Oh wait, he was Jewish!


The first word I learned was Bereshit (beer-ah-shéet) which literally means “in the beginning.” The Israelites used this word instead of “Genesis” for the first book in the Bible. And, of course, they would have called it the Torah instead of the Bible.


Hey, I just saw your brain grow a little too!


Fun Fact: The word “genesis” is Greek, not Hebrew, and translates as “origin.”


The second is the verb“shabat” (shuh-báat), which means “to rest." We more often hear this word as Sabbath, especially when speaking of a day of rest, but it comes from the same place.


When I put these two together, not only did my brain grow, but I started to ponder. Yup, I said ponder. I’d translate that to Hebrew for ya, but I didn’t learn that one yet…and my brain is full now. Maybe next time.


Anyways, as I started connecting Bereshit, Shabat and Sabbath, my thoughts went to the book of Genesis.

We find Genesis at the beginning of the Bible, where, among other things, it tells how God creates the world in seven days. If you haven’t explored that part of the Bible yet, here’s a little cheat sheet for you:


Day 1: God created light and darkness, day and night

Day 2: God created the sky and waters

Day 3: God created dry land, seas, plants and trees

Day 4: God created the sun, moon and stars

Day 5: God created sea creatures and creatures that fly in the air

Day 6: God created animals on the land and humans, made in the image of Himself

Day 7: God finished, saw it was very good and then, He created rest…. Shabat!


As pondering will do, it left me with a new idea. I want to leave this new idea with you…


God created on the seventh day too.

He created the gift of REST!


Just as essential as all these other elements, God finished His creation by adding rest, not as an afterthought or an act of exhaustion, but as a purposeful portion He knew creation would need just as much as night and day, sea and land, bird and beast, and humans. God saw rest as indispensable to the universe and to all that He put in it.


Alright, friends, it's time for us to ponder together now.


Why do so many of us view rest as something optional, even as a luxury, rather than the quintessential piece God made it to be? Would we apply that thinking to any other part of creation?


Would we see the air God gave us as a luxury?


Is it optional to be born, to be hungry, or to die?


Can we set aside the sun and moon when we become too busy?


Silly questions, right?


Then why do we as a culture seem to treat Shabat as a sidenote, thinking of its regular practice as more of a weakness or indulgence than as part of God’s creation?


You may be one of the few that take a day of real rest every week. You might even be nodding your head saying, “I know, right?!” My sombrero is off to you! But I would bet dollars-to-donuts that many of you wrestle with this the same as I do. And, I am sad to say, we are not alone.


According to a 2021 survey posted on Studyfinds.org, 6 in 10 Americans cannot remember the last time they felt truly well-rested.


However, when you intentionally set aside a day to stop your working and appreciate all that God has done for you and through you in the past week, you become a participant in God’s ongoing creation, both in you and around you. You are re-creating what God began “in the beginning” when He created Shabat.


Fun Fact: The word recreation (defined to create again; renew) and recreation (activity done for enjoyment when one is not working) are spelled exactly the same.


Taking a day of rest may look unique to each person or family, so I will leave it to you to ponder what Shabat will look like for you. But if you need a place to start, here are a few ways you could try:

  • Honor God in your own way, thanking Him for what He re-created through you this past week.

  • Find joy in an activity that re-creates your spirit somehow.

  • Shine God’s love on someone and let them love you back.

  • Whether through reading God’s Word, prayer or just being still, find some God-given guidance for the days ahead.

  • Take a nap. Thanks God for making sleep!

It’s funny, I have followed Christ for a long time, friends, but this is the first time I have seen rest in this way. Before now I have approached the seventh day of creation as God setting an example for us.

Pondering has brought a new understanding to my heart. Resting is not just what God did on the seventh day; it’s a valuable part of the whole system God designed for us. Just as you and I come from God’s creative hands, Shabat does too.


I am hoping you will allow the re-creation of a loving God to flow over you as you ponder, and then discover, the goodness of rest.


Now, go take a nap!


And Happy Shabat!


Namra




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