An Introduction to Shabbat

Last week I shared a post about simplifying and trusting God. A few friends that know me well asked if everything was OK. Let me assure you, I'm celebrating with joy the journey that the Lord has me on right now. However, I want to use this space to always be real and transparent about the frustrations, trials and tribulations that we all encounter. We all need moments of time to refocus and set our sights back in line with the King of Kings. Last March, Clark (my husband) and my oldest daughter Blakely went to Israel with Kathie Lee Gifford and about 40 of her co-workers, family members, and friends. It was truly a trip of a lifetime, and I blogged about a few highlights. On February 23rd our Israel group reunited in Ocean Reef, Florida for a weekend reunion. What a joy to be reunited with this group that really started to feel like family across the ocean! During our reunion celebration, we practiced the Jewish custom of Shabbat, led by Rabbi Jason Sobel. Friends, put simply: It was amazing and a life changing practice for me. Shabbat is a designated day of the week to shut out the burdens, discouragements, distractions and chaos of the previous 6 days. It's a time to come together, celebrate and bless with your family. For our Shabbat, we gathered on Friday night at Kathie Lee's house to walk through the 4 blessings of Shabbat with Rabbi Sobel. He shared with us that the purpose of the custom is: 1. To be reminded of Eden and embark on a foretaste of our future.  When you think about it, the beginning of our time on Earth began in the Garden of Eden... the purest example of God's intention for our lives. When we observe the Sabbath and rest and commune with the Lord, we are reconnecting with that original design, a taste of those days in the paradise of Eden. And because we have faith that Christ is returning to restore paradise on Earth, observing a Sabbath is also providing us a glimpse of the future as believers. By engaging with God's design for rest and worship through Shabbat, we are positioning our hearts for hope and anticipation. 2. To be postured for thankfulness. Shabbat creates a space for us to fulfill the very purpose for which we were created - to worship our Creator. When we celebrate the Sabbath, we remember what God has done for us, and when we remember, we also thank Him for His eternal goodness. Shabbat gives us the opportunity to set the tone of our hearts to worship God with gratitude through the week ahead. 3. To be refreshed and rejuvenated. All too often, we find ourselves feeling like we don't have time to take to rest and observe the Sabbath. Unfortunately, our constant busyness frequently leads to burnout and strained relationships. Shabbat is intended to be an oasis of time to be refreshed and rejuvenated both in our bodies and our souls. Even God rested on the Sabbath, setting an example for us to follow. 4. To be led into a more connected life. The purpose of creation has always been about connection. A blessed, meaningful life is one that is full of connections and relationships. The Sabbath helps us connect more deeply to God, His Word, and others around us, increasing the meaning and depth of our lives. When we observe Shabbat, we are submitting to God's original design for us, honoring Him and creating the necessary space to embrace the connections He intends to bring peace, joy and wholeness into our lives. At dinner it really hit me that we do not spend enough intentional time with our families. Sure, we find ourselves together as we hustle and bustle back and forth to sporting events, school events, church, even time spent hanging out watching football or golfing. However, in our culture, we really do not take the time to come together for a solid 24 hours to bless one another (in a very literal sense. During our Shabbat supper, we had the husbands bless the children then the wives then the husbands). There is a lot of singing and dancing, laughing and eating, and oh yes, drinking some fine wine! But why don't we exercise more intentionality? More reflecting, relaxing, and rejoicing in a God who is ever present at all times in our lives. Shabbat enforced in me the need to rejoice in the middle of all circumstances. There is something powerful that occurs when you come together as a family or a close group of loved ones and intentionally celebrate a meal together. Jesus modeled this perfectly for us, when He gathered His disciples around Him to break bread and celebrate despite the cross that was looming before Him. What a powerful art to begin to put into practice! I'm excited to share more about Shabbat in the future, including a handy guide to host your own Shabbat supper club. Stay tuned!