Breathing Room – Day 2
By Sandra Stanley
- Exodus 20:8-10
- Exodus 31:13
- Psalm 56:3-4
- You don’t have to be religious to know about or to practice the idea of a Sabbath—a day of rest. We all relish a slow weekend day, maybe sleeping in, taking a break from the hustle of work. But if you only think of Sabbath as a quiet Sunday, you’re missing the best part—the part that will finally give you breathing room.
Let’s back up a bit in the story that leads to today’s passages from Exodus where God introduces the Sabbath. The Israelite people were slaves in Egypt for 400 years, working all day, every day. Then they are freed and the entire nation treks through the desert for 40 more years. And it’s here that God gives them the command to observe a Sabbath—to take one day off each week.
God tells a group of people who have been working around the clock for hundreds of years and who are now trying to find enough food to feed thousands of people in the middle of a desert that they should take a day off. It must have sounded absurd! If they didn’t work that day, they didn’t eat that day.
God was up to something though. In Exodus 31:13, he explains that keeping a Sabbath will be a sign for the Israelites that “I am the Lord…” God was saying to them (and to us), I want to prove to you that I can be trusted. I know you’re afraid of going hungry. But I will prove, week after week, that I can be trusted.
Perhaps you know the rest of the story. With manna and quail, God responded to their fear of going hungry by faithfully providing their daily bread, even on the day he had asked them to rest and not work.
God’s command that we rest is really an invitation to trust him. When we’re afraid that saying no to the invitation will hurt our friend’s feelings, we can trust God to protect that friendship. When we’re afraid our house is too small, our car is too old, or our clothes are too plain, we can trust God that our worth isn’t wrapped up in those material things. Trusting God instead of gritting our teeth and pushing past our limits is the way to finally, permanently find breathing room.