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I was just ready to start my Sunday afternoon nap and reading/rest time when I heard, “Hodi! Worā kanā?” Basically, “Knock, knock, is anyone home?” The voice came from our front porch. I went out and greeted two young men. 

They wanted to buy our special anemia capsules for one of their wives. I silently prayed for God’s wisdom. It was Sunday afternoon; the sun was at its most brutal, a consideration despite it being only a three-minute walk to our clinic. We’ve long realized that our bodies need this day of rest to keep up the demanding pace of life in our village the other six days. This was not an emergency—the capsules could be picked up tomorrow. On the other hand, it was clearly important to the men who had made a special trip on their motorcycle. 

Then I remembered asking God just this morning, in my early morning quiet time, that God would be in control of my schedule and to bring the people he wanted me to interact with.

I said, “Just a minute, I’ll grab the clinic keys.” As we walked together in the heat of the equatorial sun, I asked them if they had heard the Good News. Half an hour later, I returned home sweaty but content, praying that God would use the seeds planted by our conversation and prayer time to grow eternal fruit.

Sabbath-keeping dates back to the book of Genesis, when after six days of creation, God rested. Shortly after the Israelites left Egypt, God instructed them, too, to keep the Sabbath: 

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it (Exodus 20:8-11).  

Sabbath literally means “to rest,” and we keep the day holy by setting it apart or making it special. How special it is that the living God wants to spend time with us! God’s Word says that he delights in us and wants us to delight in him.

I’m thankful that God knows our deepest needs and commanded a Sabbath rest to sustain and bless us. He also knows what will best accomplish that. I am often on call 24/7 for any medical needs that arise in our area of more than 3,500 people. Sabbath rest is essential, but will only be possible if I’m intentional about safeguarding it.

So we sleep an extra half hour on Sunday and then bask in the peace of the quiet morning, which renews and restores our souls. We seek God’s leading and strength for the week ahead. While every morning includes time to grow closer to Jesus, on Sundays I get to linger in his presence a little longer.

Each morning I take a prayer and exercise walk while there’s still a hint of coolness in the air. On Sundays I can pray and walk a little longer because we don’t have breakfast until 8:00 a.m. Then I play my favorite worship music and sing along as I do whatever meal prep remains. Instead of instant coffee, we use the French press and enjoy the special hazelnut creamer we brought from the U.S. I may get out my autoharp and sing as I prepare the Sunday morning worship music. 

These efforts don’t always produce an ideal Sabbath rest. But what really matters is how I respond to interruptions to my Sabbath. I can be refreshed even during an all-day emergency medical call if I’m abiding in Jesus and conscious of his presence.

Related: Sabbath Rest: How to Keep the Sabbath Holy

Of course, life in the U.S. during home assignment (a time when we visit the churches supporting our ministry) is a whole different story—but the key is the same: being intentional. We can choose to read books or articles that nourish and restore our souls. As we enjoy conversations with family or friends, we do our part to intentionally keep discussions meaningful and edifying. We can initiate times of praying together.

During home assignment, almost every weekend finds us traveling to one of our more than 30 partner churches to share updates and encouragement. It’s both enjoyable and exhausting. How can we find Sabbath rest given what travel and speaking requires? We find that it’s our attitude that matters. It is possible to be renewed and rested in our spirits, even when we’re physically exhausted.

We’re just as dependent on God’s wisdom and strength to navigate our day-to-day lives in the hustle and bustle of life in the U.S. as when we are on the mission field. I want to trust God each time I wake to “Hodi! Hodi!” and each time we set out for another speaking assignment, and with every part of my life. I’m sure your life requires the very same sort of intentional trust. 

We can also intentionally (and with a happy curiosity) ask ourselves, “What’s the best way for me and for my family to design our Sabbaths so that they bless us and delight God?” Our creator clearly loves variety and diversity; each person’s way of creating Sabbath rest can be unique—worshiping, reading, exercising, hiking, fishing, and visiting friends and family—each activity done in and with the Lord. 

Related: My Soul Finds Rest through Art: How an Unconventional Sabbath Practice Helps Me Connect with God

Sue Scheenstra

Sue Scheenstra and her husband, Roger, partner with RCA Global Mission as they work with an unreached people group who are semi-nomadic and pasture their herds in a desert region of eastern Africa.