4 / Reflections on Sabbath: Contemplate

by Ashley S. Davis, M.A, Resident in Counseling, Rivermont Counseling LLC

When I think about practicing Sabbath, it can feel overwhelming, and if I’m honest, downright unrealistic. While a part of me longs for Sabbath, the more practical part of me wonders if it is possible to practice this spiritual discipline consistently.

In ‘Emotionally Healthy Spirituality’, Pete Scazzero empathizes with this internal conflict and encourages Christians to approach Sabbath in four bite-sized pieces: stop, rest, delight, and contemplate.

Part Four: Contemplate
The narrative of the Protestant Work Ethic has greatly shaped our culture’s view of work as it relates to personal identity and worth. Many of us feel compelled to work harder to prove ourselves. Without setting aside time to contemplate God’s unconditional love, it’s easy to start believing that God also cares more about what I do than who I am.

The gospel of Jesus reminds me that I never have to perform to earn His love – it’s freely given. Lynne Baab, author of Sabbath Keeping: Finding Freedom in the Rhythms of Rest wrote, “As long as we are working hard, using our gifts to serve others, experiencing joy in our work along with the toil, we are always in danger of believing that our actions trigger God’s love for us.”  
Contemplation refines our view of self-worth and work.

The dictionary defines contemplate as “to think profoundly and at length; to meditate.” Contemplation on God’s love might look like studying Scripture, writing out a prayer of thanksgiving, singing a worship song, or sitting in silence with God. It might involve creating a family prayer routine for the Sabbath or adhering to Jewish Shabbat traditions that families have practiced for generations.

“For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!” (Did you know that Psalm 92 was written to be sung on the Sabbath?)

When we take time to “taste and see” the goodness of the Lord, remember His good works, and celebrate His faithfulness, everything else in our lives is put into proper perspective.

How does your view of work inform your understanding of God’s love for you?

What practices ground you in the truth of God’s unconditional love?

Are there spiritual disciplines that return you to the gospel over and over again?

**Disclaimer: The ideas presented in this blog post are the opinion of a Resident in Counseling, and are not intended to be understood as professional mental health advice, treatment, diagnosis, or an indication of a professional relationship between the reader and the writer. If you are seeking mental health counseling, contact a counselor in your area. If you are experiencing an emergency, head to your nearest emergency room or call 911.

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