Yesterday we established that the rest God is speaking about regarding Sabbath rest is not just us relaxing, taking a nap, reading a good book, doing some things we love…taking the day off.
It can include those things, but the command to observe it is much deeper than that and falls into an atmosphere of God-designed rhythms.
Eugene Peterson talks about this in his commentary notes following Geneses 1 – through 2: 3. He points out that the six days of creation are recorded in like pattern of opening with “God spoke…” and each account of that day ending with, “evening and morning, the (first) day.”
Days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 all begin and end the same way, but the seventh day wording starts out differently.
Even in the way it is told, the seventh day is different.
And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all HIs work which He had made.” Genesis 2:2 NLT
So this pattern exists for us. Time as a gift. Time as a way to mark out our activities and to give us natural places to stop and rest before going on.
And then each week, a special day to set apart for a different kind of experience.
We will talk a little more about that tomorrow, but for today I wanted to reflect on this concept of evening and morning marking a day.
I find this fascinating,
All of my growing up years and most of my adult life, and all the world around me seems to say that a day starts with the morning and ends with the evening.
But clearly as I have read these Scriptures and learned a little bit more about how time was counted in the Jewish faith, it is evening that begins a new day.
My mind is slow to comprehend this change in perspective, but I have two habits in our home that I purposefully do now to remind me to see that evening marks the beginning of a new day.
One is a battery operated candle we were gifted when we moved into this new home. I set the timer seasonally to come on around sunset, although I confess in the long days of summer daylight it still needs to come on around 6 PM or it would be burning through the night with no one to see it.
As the house begins to grow darker, that little flickering light reminds me that evening has come upon us and I try and remember to thank God for the day past and focus on that we are beginning a new day in His timing.
We also have a small perpetual calendar we got in Cuba and before I go to bed, I change the day and date to the new day. Here I pause and pray for our friends in Cuba and I remind myself that the new day has already started.
Yes – sometimes the battery goes out in the candle and it takes several days for me to get it back on schedule.
Yes – some nights I forget to change the calendar or I pray so quickly or not at all that it seems trite.
But in these symbolic ways, I am attempting to remind myself that I am on God’s timing. The new day has already begun as I head to bed. In the morning when I wake, we will be well into the new day and the rest from the night before was attended to by God.
The first half of the day was already going on without me having to be in charge.
I sleep surrendered to the fact that my body is mortal and needs rest.
I sleep securely knowing God doesn’t.
When I wake in the night with my head spinning over some details that I am tempted to worry about or overplay for, it is in the darkness of the new day that I come to God and pray and seek wisdom and guidance and then to release my cares to Him so I can sleep peacefully.
With these two small habits, I also marvel how quickly a day passes.
When I see the candle light flickering as the sun is setting, I breathe a sigh of relief. Whatever the day was like, it has come to an end. It may have been a good day and I can be thankful for the joy it brought, it may have been a rough day and I can be thankful for the way God carried me and now it is over and as most days are just a mixture…I can stop and say thank you for the good, the bad and the in between of daily life.
As I move those number pegs around on our Cuba calendar, I often think…oh my…we are halfway through the week, or the month, or the year. It gives me pause to reflect on what has passed and what I think lies ahead and gives me the desire to make the most of the days we have.
The rhythm of evenings and mornings…days…weeks…seasons. These are all established by God and daily we can give thanks for the way these bring order for our lives.