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Habits of Grace: Applying Sabbath to a Career in Sports


Bible on a desk

In our previous blog on Sabbath, we discussed an overview of the Sabbath and its importance in our walks with Jesus. The blog writer, USG staff member Amanda Roth, wrote, “God instructed us to rest one day of the week (Exodus 20:8-10, also see Hebrews 4:1, 9-11). Although it’s debatable whether or not Sabbath is considered a command that all Christians should follow, it is clear that those who have begun consistently practicing Sabbath have reaped the benefits of a slower, more focused life that allows for greater awareness of God’s presence and voice. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).” In this blog, we’ll highlight some tips from the USG Academy Playbook on the best ways to apply Sabbath in your life as a sport industry professional.


The Sunday Sabbath

Most often, the Sabbath is associated with Sundays, which is interesting because God commanded the Israelites in the Old Testament law to keep the Sabbath on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-10). The seventh day of the week is, Saturday, and not Sunday; therefore, the Sabbath traditionally was kept on Saturday. However, we know that Jesus was executed on the Roman cross on Friday and was raised to life on the third day, which was Sunday. Because of this reality, the early church began to gather together on Sundays because the Savior was risen on Sunday (Acts 20:7). So, it makes sense that we would associate the Sabbath with Sunday.


However, working in the sport industry can make it very difficult to take an entire Sunday as a Sabbath day. First, it is important to note that Sabbath rest is not about when you do it but why. As a professional in the sport industry, it may work best for you to take a Sabbath rest on a different day of the week, which is totally ok! Furthermore, it may not be possible to take an entire day off to rest. In that case, find a morning or a night of the week where you can rest in the Lord. Either way, the goal on Sabbath is to step away from the busyness of life and take some time in the presence of our Father in Heaven.


The Sabbath To-Do List

In Exodus 20:10, God commands the Israelites to do no work on the Sabbath day. The Scripture reads, “But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it, you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.” This was not a suggestion from God to His people but a command that He wanted them to obey. This command was not given arbitrarily, but because God knows our need for rest and our desire to always be doing something. While we are not bound by the Old Testament law any longer (Romans 7:6), the principle of God’s command in Exodus 20:10 still remains. When taking a Sabbath day to rest, it is important not to be tempted into checking off the to-do list. This includes doing laundry, going grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, etc. If we do these things, we make void the rest we sought to achieve in taking the Sabbath day!


Resting in God’s Presence

In Jeremiah 29:13, the Lord says to His people Israel who are exiled in Babylon, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” In a time of great difficulty for the people of Israel, the Lord desired that they would seek Him, and when they did, He promised that they would find Him. This truth is the same for us as twenty-first-century believers. As we go through this life and face great difficulty, we must seek the Lord, and in that seeking, we will find Him. This is why it is important to make an intentional effort to seek the Lord’s presence during your Sabbath rest. Practically, this can be done in a variety of ways. We can seek the Lord through prayer, reading His Word, or a book that helps us better understand His Word, or worshiping through enjoying His creation of nature, music, or other activities. Whatever you do that draws you near to God would be a great thing to set aside for a Sabbath day.


Conclusion

The bottom line is that the Sabbath day is an opportunity to rest. Plain and simple. There are few guidelines to follow because, as Jesus said in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” As you continue to follow Jesus as a professional in the sport industry, make it a habit to seek Him through the rest that a Sabbath day offers!

 

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