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As the pace of the world quickens, and encroaching darkness moves in, the Sabbath – and proper observance of it – is more important than ever. We can sustain it, endure it, minimize it, or delight in it.
Exodus 20:8-11 reminds us to “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Furthermore, it cuts to the chase when we read, “the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God.”
With business as usual going on with stores, activities, sports, and everyday work and play, how do we square ourselves with our Lord- our God – to keep it holy? And thus, work on creating more holiness within ourselves?
In Matthew 11:28-30: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
There are three verbs in these verses that deserve attention. They are come, take, and learn.
As we apply these three verbs to our participation in Sabbath observance, we may see our strength grow, our insight gain more depth and clarity, and our ability to learn spiritual things increase.
As we work to individually better participate in and enjoy the Sabbath, we can find blessings awaiting us for our efforts. For every horror story we hear about on the news, there is a beautiful story of kindness that doesn’t make the news feed. For all the dark-hearted and mean-spirited things we may hear about, there are opposite stories – real everyday heroes who do small things with great love (as Mother Theresa said), keeping faith and hope and human honor alive and well.
Keeping the Sabbath day holy is a discipline that might allow us to even better serve our neighbors, or be ‘the one’ to jump in and make a difference for good in another’s life. It may give us Christ-like strength to reach out and act more as we believe He would. It will lighten our being. It can change a person’s day for the better. Sometimes, even their life. Sundays can be focused on being a blessing to other people- near or far – as we are growing closer to our God.
Here is the thing: The Lord knows our heart. He knows the intent of our doings. We can pretend or make excuses. We can get too busy, or become caught up and forget one of the largest bullet points we’ve been given as a Spiritual Vitamin. Like it or not, Sunday is no ordinary day. As Christians, we can choose to follow counsel or ignore it. The bottom line – as always – is this: There is nothing we can do to stop God from loving us. But there are many things we can do so stop Him from blessing us.
I heard this many years ago, have taught it often, and have it in my files somewhere. Regretfully, I can’t find it, so I cannot credit the one who shared these wise words. If you know, please comment and share so that we can all be better informed!
President Thomas S. Monson taught us this, “Life would be simpler for all of us if we would obey such rules completely.” (“Obedience Brings Blessings.) The more the obedience, the greater the blessings.
Let’s consider these three verbs:
1) Come to the Savior. Don’t bother trying to see how long you can tough it out. Don’t drive yourself into spiritual and mental exhaustion by trying to carry on without the necessary help. Come to the Savior. Bring your problems and your pains and your praise. Seek him, actively. Set aside worry and fear, and replace it with hope and faith. Just for today – just for this Sabbath- do it!
Use Sundays to focus on Him, to plead with Him in prayer for your own problems and questions. Ask how to help your neighbors with their difficulties. Look for Him in nature, in people and things around you. Find the best books as well as scriptures to read and contemplate. Delve into the depth of self and seek to see His countenance within yourself. We can do so. The scriptures tell us it is possible. The Spirit will guide us, and blessings will multiply. Soon, we’ll find that our fears have diminished and our worries have been lifted.
2) “Take my yoke upon you . . .” His yoke requires covenants and obedience and sacrifice, but in return he removes the burdens of sin and uncertainty and darkness – burdens infinitely greater in scope and weight. He shows us where we are going, and gives us the power to get there. Life is too heavy to try to go it alone!
The paralytic lowered through the roof had a bed to carry home after his healing (Mark 2:2-12) but the bed cannot have weighed more than the frailty the Savior removed from him. Christ is always ready to help us. Those covenants and our obedience to Him allow additional strength to be given, and the burdens to be lifted. Sunday can be a lifting day!
What a gift He has given us! Sabbath days are wonderful for reflecting on how we can better yoke ourselves with Him. When He assists us, we can get up and fight the good fight with even more conviction and with better understanding. Surely we have come to know that working for what is righteous and good is always, always worth the price we pay. The ultimate price the Savior paid was infinitely, and far and away more magnanimous and vast than we can even imagine. In comparison, our part is small, though it sometimes feels pretty heavy and huge.
3) “Learn of me . . .” The lessons we must learn about him we can only learn after we have taken his yoke. Without the covenants and without obedience, the sacrifices required of us will make little if any sense at all. To learn of him we must follow him. We cannot come to this knowledge while we follow the ways of the world.
But we do not have to learn everything for the power to come to us. President Boyd K. Packer said, “You need not know everything before the power of the atonement will work for you. Have faith in Christ; it begins to work the day you ask.” (Ensign, May 1997, p. 10).
As we faithfully grow in ability to keep the Sabbath day a Holy day, the Holy Spirit can greatly magnify the ability of the Atonement to work in our lives. Our enjoyment of the Sabbath will increase. Our ability to come to the Savior and take His yoke upon us promises more joy in our mortal journey; it gives us greater awareness of the spiritual blessings that we can claim.
The Sabbath is a great gift, not a binder, or punishment from going-and-doing. It grants us distance from the flurry of activity in this often worrisome world. It offers refuge from many temporal concerns and graces us to help one another in callings, as family members and friends, and as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are able to show that we choose Him over the things of this world.
It is made for us to find greater joy! Psalm 118:24, “What Else God CreatedRejoicing In SuccessBad DaysDaysCheerfulnessCreation, Origin OfBirthdaysOptimismGratitudeAll DayThis is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
That the Sabbath day is one you and your family view as the best and most beautiful day of the week is my hope and prayer.
I have grown to this point of joying in Sundays. I didn’t always see it so, and it cramped my style a bit. But it was never about my style, was it? We’re trying to be more like Jesus. The Sabbath offers us a full day of practicing in a beautifully focused manner.
May the Lord bless us as we strive to keep the Sabbath day a holy day. And may it grant us more peace and joy on Sunday, and every day of the week thereafter until we see our Lord face to face.
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, professional speaker, author, and songwriter. Her undergrad studies were in musical theater, and her Masters degree is in communications. She has taught for CES programs for almost 30 years. She began by speaking for the National Press Bureau speakers association. A Billboard award winning songwriter, her favorite use of music is as a tool to teach. In addition to three solo albums in the Christian market, she co-wrote Women at the Well with Kenneth Cope and My Beloved Christ with Randy Kartchner. Her Facebook page Goodness Matters and her website www.goodnessmatters.com is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world, & point people gently toward Christ.
She & her husband have 8 children & 8 grandchildren. She serves as Gospel Doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves in their ward bishopric. Vickey, from Virginia, believes the adage ‘You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl.” She loves flowers, brownies, the ocean, and laughing every chance she gets. Oh…and the Hallmark Channel.