Sabbath-Rest

Written by: Andrew Ware
January 23, 2023

Finding Renewal in Time Off

Last Fall I preached a sermon series on self-care. The contents of which I have contemplated bringing together into some sort of publication. However, time gets away from me and other things occupy my time, so it is still a work in progress. 

While that still seems a bit away, there was one concept from that series that continues to plague my mind. It’s not that I hadn’t expected to learn something new in writing a series on self-care, but after almost a year of podcasting on the subject, I thought I would share much of what I had learned.

Instead, when I began to prepare a message on Sabbath and time off, I stumbled on this quote from “The Bible Project.” The Bible Project is a wonderful and simplistic resource for unpacking areas and themes of scripture. In their discussion on Sabbath, Missy Takano writes on their site,

“There are two main Hebrew words used for rest in the Bible. The first is Shabbat, which gets partially translated into the English word “sabbath.” This word for rest simply means to “stop working.” Think of an hourly job where you clock out at the end of a shift. The work is done, and there’s no more until you clock back in. The other main Hebrew word for rest used in the Hebrew Scriptures is nuakh. This means to “dwell” or “settle.” This is not the same as clocking out from an hourly job. This type of rest is like sitting in front of a fire with a loved one or unpacking a suitcase to stay at grandma’s house for the holidays.” 1

Breaking down Sabbath:

In the Hebrew Scriptures (The ‘Old Testament’ in the Christian tradition), we very often see “Sabbath” portrayed as that day off during the week. For the Jewish people, it is a time of blessing and ritual as they practice in the same way God did in creation, a day of rest. It is a day away from work, and even responsibilities. Scripture portrays people taking respite from regular labors and even to the point of punishment for doing labor on the Sabbath day. This is because rest was (and is) believed to be sacred, though I do not believe we will be struck dead or any food collected on the Sabbath will spoil. 

However, there is a notion in these biblical times that rest is more than that “day off.” Resting is not just shutting everything off and expecting to feel better when you get right back to the busyness of life the next day. So while our English language fails to often encapsulate it in the word “rest” the ancient Hebrew language helps in our language shortcomings with “nuakh.”

Shabbat - Nuakh (written in Biblical Hebrew)

Going Beyond Sabbath:

Because there is this other understanding of rest that is gathered from Hebrew Scriptures and the Hebrew language, we can gather that this manner of living was even more sacred than just a day off for the people of Judea. No, they knew there was an intentionality to rest. They knew that to rest meant to dwell in the present, to settle into what was happening around them, and most importantly to be in tune with the needs of the self. 

There should be intentionality behind our rest and it should be done in ways that help to make us better human beings. For me, this plays a role in both rest and recovery. I ensure that I have intentional moments during my days and weeks when I am resting, but I also note the ways in which the rest I take, from various aspects, has intention and purpose. 

Taking My Own Rest Days

As someone who runs 7 days a week, it may seem somewhat oxymoronic to talk about rest, when I don’t even have a rest day from running. However, again sometimes it is around the intentional acts of rest, and what happens when I am resting. I do better on the run when I get in a run every day, this makes my rest and recovery routine even more important. For example, when I am in those times of rest, whether in sleep or just sitting down, I make sure that I am balancing those with things that will keep my body in good shape. 

Sleep is the greatest tool that athletes have in their toolbox, I am really intentional about my sleep so that my body has that space to recover. I also make sure that I foam-roll on the regular (yes that is right I am one who believes in foam rolling and actually does it haha). 

However, running 7 days a week does not mean that I am all out all the time. I live by the 80/20 rules which call runners to do 80% of their weekly work at an easy pace (for me about 8:10-9:15/mile), and even sometimes (at least once a week) I do a recovery run where I may go even slower to make sure I am not putting too much on my legs.

We need to learn how to rest, not just have days off, but even make sure that the easier moments of our lives have intentions that help to make the harder parts of our lives easier. The more easy runs I take a part in during my weekly workout regimen help to build my aerobic base, which in turn helps to make me a stronger runner and even a faster runner. 

Hebrews 4:9-11 says,

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11 NIV)

I always found it odd that this verse includes both sabbath and rest in our English translations of this verse as if to pull from both of these sacred Hebrew words and invite us to consider how sabbath and rest are more than taking time off during a week. We add intentionality to our rest. Whether that is being intentional about your easy miles to build that aerobic base as a runner or having times of reflection and introspection in our time off work these activities help us when that hard work comes. 

Find those times of rest and help them to renew your spirit for when life is in hard times.

AMEN!!!

Would love to hear your thoughts:

What does our intentional time look like?

What will you do with your rest time? Go for an easy run? Have some time for meditation? Read a relaxing book? Journal? Go to therapy? Hang out with special people in your life who fill your cup?


Friday on the Pod

I regret that I did not bring a podcast out this last week. It is hard to explain the feeling I have around podcasting right now. I absolutely love hosting and chatting with people on podcast episodes. However, between scheduling and many of the other time aspects of producing a podcast have been tough. I think I am holding on to many of the feelings that ended 2022 and while I thought I processed them in the “State of the Pod” episode there is more behind it than I originally intended. I think this might mean I have already failed one of my goals of bringing you those weekly episodes…this hurts, but I am trying to redefine what it means for me to host and what that will look like. In the meantime, be sure to keep up with this Substack and check out older episodes of the podcast. I may not have a consistent release schedule going forward, so make sure you are subscribed on your preferred platform so you see new episodes when I do release them. Also be on the lookout for a new project I am working on (more news later).

To find it on your favorite platform, click here.
For a direct link to the podcast episode, click here.

Also, I would love your support for the podcast and this network, as I continue to have conversations that help to build a theology of self-care. To support me head on over to Patreon and give a monthly gift of any amount.


Last Week on the Run

In buildups towards big races (especially those of longer mileage like the marathon and half marathon) it is recommended to have what are called down weeks. Down weeks are weeks when you cut back your mileage a little bit to allow your body to rest a bit more and recover as you build mileage (and often speed). Last week was my down week, but it still held lots of big wins. I was able to crush both my speed workout on Wednesday and my half marathon workout! I got to spend time on the course I will be running my half marathon on this spring (Thanks J&A Racing for an awesome community event)!

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