Our Family Rediscovers Sabbath
Posted on July 13, 2021 by VMMissions Staff
Every spring, my parents visit us and help us plant our garden. Our friend Greg often comes the week before and tills up the soil that is dry. Dad and I do the rest with shovels if need be. We turn over the soil so that ground that has been previously fruitful can be fruitful again. We prepare it to receive new seed, and even tend the small plants growing outside the garden’s borders. We’re not world-class gardeners but we pick and harvest each green bean and pepper with a deep sense of gratitude for the miracle that is seed and soil.
Several years ago, when we only had one daughter, my dad helped us plant onions far in the back row of the garden, right up against the fence. I had forgotten to plan a place for them, and so that was the only spot left. Those poor onions didn’t get watered much. Up against the back fence, they didn’t get quite as much sunlight as they needed. They got weeded quite a bit less as well. I remember seeing them shoot up some green stems that rose a couple inches above the soil before withering and dropping down. There was no onion harvest that summer.
The next spring, now with two children in our family, I went out with our oldest, Eliana, to survey the lay of the garden so we could get ready for Pappy and Grammy’s spring visit. There were the onions, nearly every single one from the season before. Their stems reached high and strong, brought to life by the sun’s warmth and the spring rain. We remembered to water those resurrected onions. We weeded around them. We picked and ate and shared them.
I wish we had cared for them in the first season, and harvested onions in both seasons. But in the most wonderfully surprising way, new life came from what was forgotten and seemed lost. I remember reading somewhere that seeds, even forgotten seeds, have in them everything needed for life and a predisposition to grow.
Theresa and I work together every day, partnering together as followers of Jesus. We tend the garden of our family. We team together professionally through our work at VMMissions and with church communities and neighborhoods. Working, playing, parenting as followers of Jesus. Seeking to make Christ and Christ’s Kingdom known.
In December 2019, Theresa suggested that we begin a few faith rhythms as a family, mostly concerning Sabbath. We’ve job-shared and worked bi-vocationally these last several years and at times it has been difficult to stop and disengage and receive God’s rest.
So we outlined our hopes—as well as the “why” behind the practices we were about to embark on—and started! It felt risky, but right. Here’s what we did:
- As much as possible, we completed all work before stopping to Sabbath on Saturday.
- We sang the same songs every Saturday evening.
- We got out the same candle, and said the same prayers.
- We practiced putting away technology for 24 hours.
Allowing God’s Word to take root in the soil of our family in a new way has been profound. This new movement was really something very old in my life, old seeds that were planted in me long ago by my parents and siblings. My family did something very similar growing up. Every week we paused. We remembered. We lit candles and read scripture and sang songs. We “sabbathed.”
Those simple Sabbath seeds lay dormant for a while in my life, and I’m grateful for this resurrected Sabbath seed sown into my life through my parents’ faithfulness.
God has been doing new, beautiful things in our family as we have paused, and prayed, and remembered God who saves and liberates and frees us, and leads us in paths of righteousness and justice.
As we “sabbath,” we begin to get a glimpse of what God might be calling us to in this next season of ministry. And as we pause, we can better understand God’s love which saves us from sin and violence and oppression and hatred and indifference. This is good fruit that God is growing from the seed of Sabbath that has taken root in our lives.