One of the goals that I set for myself on January 1, 2015 was to submit the manuscript of my book, Emotional Freedom: The Choices We Must Make, to my publisher by January 31. I missed that deadline, changed it to February 28, then to March 31, then to June 30, and then stopped setting deadlines. I felt frustrated and discouraged but I did not give up. Having the final draft of my manuscript very close to completion last Saturday night, I planned to work on it all day Sunday and send it in early Monday morning. On Sunday morning, something happened that caused me to change my mind and set aside my plan.
As I was waking up, I heard in my mind the words and music to the song “Oh Day of Rest and Gladness.” Laying there in the quietness, I recalled a memory in which I was sitting with my parents in a little country church and listening to everyone sing this hymn. I went to my computer, looked up the lyrics (You can find them here. ) and printed them. As I read the words, I felt a longing for the peace and rest that they describe. I realized for the first time what a great gift the Sabbath is!
While growing up, I did not consider it a gift; I thought that was a bother. I felt not joy and gladness but frustration and sadness. My parents appreciated it. They worked hard every other day of the week, so on Sunday (the day that they practiced the Sabbath) they felt thankful for an opportunity to rest their bodies and souls. In the morning, they went to church; there, they met with the Lord and with friends whom they often invited home for Sunday dinner. In the afternoons, they usually took naps. Although I enjoyed the “having friends over for dinner”part of the day, I did not appreciate the “resting” part. Taking a nap was the last thing I wanted to do. I did not want to bother with napping because I did not think I needed to rest, and I vowed in my heart that I would not rest.
As I got older that vow, along with other unwise childish vows, was forgotten. Well, I thought it was but God brought it back to my memory. While I was meditating on the lyrics of the hymn, what I had vowed over fifty years ago surfaced to my conscious mind, and I saw that it has been blocking my ability to rest. My whole perspective of the Sabbath changed because, through understanding the lyrics of the song, I saw that its intended purpose is to make my life easier instead of harder. Although Sabbath keeping can become legalistic, God did not intend for it to be so. Jesus revealed the intent of the Sabbath when said, “the Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath” Mark 2:27 NLT).
So instead of working on my manuscript, I prepared a special breakfast: a generous serving of the smoked salmon that I’d received as a birthday gift, cucumbers fresh from my garden, organic red grapes, and a large pot of green tea. I placed this food on my favorite china.
After that, I walked, prayed, sang, wrote in my journal, and edited some of my photos. By the end of my Sabbath day, I felt more rested than I’d felt for months.
On Monday, feeling energetic and relaxed, I completed the final draft of my book and submitted it to my publisher.