The first and greatest commandment is that we love the Lord God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. (We can read this in Deuteronomy 6:5, and Jesus repeats this commandment in the New Testament). This is the very reason we were created — to love God and to be in a relationship with Him.
The word “Sabbath” is derived from the Hebrew word “Shabbat,” which means “to rest from labor.”
The need for “Sabbath” — rest from our labor — is built into creation. Man needs “Sabbath,” as does creation as a whole.
One of the purposes of “Sabbath” is so that we can draw near to God and learn to rest in Him.
Sometimes those in Christian ministry forget this. We think we are measured by what we do, rather than by what we are. We forget that we can not continue to pour out unless we are constantly being filled up. If we do not make a place for “Sabbath” in our lives, we will run dry spiritually, and we will come to a point of inability to give any more. We forget that the thing God wants most from us is not our labor, but us. God wants to spend time with us! He wants us to rest in Him.
We see this in Luke 10:38-42. Here we read that while Jesus was traveling along, he stopped to visit Martha and Mary. Martha welcomed Jesus and His entourage into their home and immediately went to work preparing to host this crowd. Meanwhile, Mary sat by Jesus’ feet and listened to what He was saying.
Luke tells us that Martha was distracted by “much service,” and she became upset. She then complained to Jesus and wanted Him to tell Mary to get to work and to help serve. After all, Martha was engaged in important ministry. She was serving the Lord and His followers. She was doing good work. And she needed help! But Jesus didn’t respond the way she expected.
Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
While our service and deeds may all be good, we need to spend time sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His words. This is the “good part.” In the world in which we live, this will not happen by accident. We cannot let what is urgent crowd out what is truly important. We must make room in our lives to rest in, or wait upon, the Lord.
As the prophet Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 40:31): “Those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, and they will walk and not faint.”
I have found this to be true in my own life. When life has been at its most intense and difficult, time and again the Lord has given me strength when I have set aside time to rest in Him. Moreover, He has spoken to me of His love, which has sustained me during trying times.
– By Will Dickerson, OMS Hungary Team Member