by Rebecca Zickert
And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. God saw the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning — the first day.
GENESIS 1: 3-5
“There was evening and there was morning…” These words from the first chapter of Genesis radically disrupted the rhythm of my mind. It removed me from a rut from which I so desperately tried to be released for much of my life. In reading this chapter it dawned on me, He didn’t say “there was morning and then evening.”
My weekdays are often a rush, beginning with an alarm, perhaps a few hits of the snooze and then a dash into the new day. I have attempted to wake when there is still quietness in the house and before my mind haunts me with the “to-do” list, but as much as I’d like to be a morning person, I seem to fail again and again.
“There was evening and there was morning…” God’s words. Not man’s. We are taught and try to live knowing God’s words are for our good. They are better than any other ways this world could offer. Yet the patterns of this world tend to take over. Evening, in the book of Genesis, came before morning on the first through the sixth days, and on the seventh day He rested and “blessed” it.
As I pondered these words this January, I decided to see if God really intended a new day to begin at sunset. The following Sunday, as the sun was getting low in the sky, I began to feel excitement as my new day (Monday) was moments away. Because of my new thinking, the beautiful thing is my Monday did not begin like a typical Monday with a frantic, dreaded rush. Instead, it was ushered in with a prayer in the quietness of the evening and downtime with family, which was followed by a long eight-hour rest awakening to the last 10 hours of my Monday. What a difference! Oh, how I loved and looked forward to the setting of the sun each day and knowing the world’s night was my next day’s beginning.
I’m discovering that a new rhythm does not just flawlessly happen. To alter the time my brain views as the start of a day and to practice beginning a new day while everyone else is still in yesterday requires new, transformed thinking. I offer myself grace because I don’t want to go back to my old pattern, and I enjoy the peace in this new way.
As I came to the end of my first week, I knew that in Genesis 2:2-3, God rested from all of His work. I wondered, “Could I, too, practice a day of rest (Sabbath)?” It would mean I’d have to fight the urge of finishing up all that didn’t get finished. I worked excitedly through my Saturday during the daylight knowing that as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon, my work would cease. When it did, I exhaled. What was done was done and what was unfinished would remain so over the next 24 hours.
I went to my room and began my Sabbath by candlelight, in the darkness of the beginning of my day. I read a passage from Douglas Kaine McKelvey’s Every Moment Holy. * (I replaced “morning” with evening and “yesterday” with last week):
Meet me, O Christ, in this stillness of morning.
Move me, O Spirit, to quiet my heart.
Mend me, O Father, from yesterday’s harms.
From the discords of yesterday, resurrect my peace.
From the discouragement of yesterday, resurrect my hope.
From the weariness of yesterday, resurrect my strength.
From the doubts of yesterday, resurrect my faith.
From the wounds of yesterday, resurrect my love.
Let me enter this new day (week), aware of my need,
and awake to your grace, O Lord, Amen.
I had to fight to keep the Sabbath free of work. My mind can be very persuasive, but the fight was so worth it. The peace I received by following God’s Word seemed to spread to those around me, and even when it didn’t, His peace kept me grounded. I was awestruck by that day, wondering why I hadn’t done this before. It was a sweet gift but I still wondered, “This couldn’t happen every Sunday, could it?”
A time for God.
A time for family.
A time to rest.
A time to rejuvenate.
I’m going into my fourth month and I have to say, I never want to miss a Sabbath again. It truly is given by God to us for a reason. It is His gift to us and is so sweet if we embrace it. Life is full of challenges, whether it’s Monday or Sunday, but I have yet to experience a Sabbath that didn’t end at sunset with me in awe of how wonderful God’s blessings are if we choose to accept them.
*Every Moment Holy – New Liturgies for Daily Life © 2017 Douglas McKelve