Learning to Say No

My two year old son has a favorite word.  I bet you can guess it…..??  If you guessed “no” then you would be right!  Isn’t it amazing how little ones know what they want and what they don’t want and aren’t afraid to tell you!  Most of the time they will get overruled for whatever they respond “no” to because they don’t often know what is best for them. Like when they get really mad and fussy and we know it is time for bed. They are tired and they know it. But they just want to play longer. We have to tell them “no” so that they can rest.  We have to lead them and give them direction in life so that they can learn how to live happy, productive, and respectful lives.

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I have been studying Priscilla Shirer’s Bible Study- Breathe, Making Room for Sabbath with some women from my church.  I don’t know about you, but when I hear Sabbath, I immediately think of Sundays.  Going to church, coming home and having lunch with family and hanging out around the house.  But most of the time, Sundays are filled with so many other things to get ready for the week.

One thing that I learned in reading this study and learning about the Israelites after they were freed from slavery in Egypt, is that Sabbath is not about any specific day but rather a mindset.

On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.

It is clear that the Sabbath was not an accident- God had it in mind from the beginning of creation.  On the seventh day, all of God’s work was done except one little thing.  He created the seventh day. He created that day of rest.  He was intentional about it and called it holy.

But then life happened.  Adam and Eve at the apple and the world was opened up to a life filled with sin and separation from God.  And we forgot to take that time for rest with God. Fast forward hundreds of years.  The Isrealites were in slavery in Egypt and God freed them.  But they weren’t free. They still had a mindset of slavery. They didn’t know how to rest because for generations all they knew was to wake up and work and work and work and sleep and repeat.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day.  I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual. “Moses said, “Eat this food today, for today is a Sabbath day dedicated to the Lord. There will be no food on the ground today.  You may gather the food for six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath. There will be no food on the ground that day.” Exodus 16:4-5 and 25-26.

God provided for the Isrealites for the 40 years that they were on their way to the promised land by giving them manna every night to gather the next morning. They were not to keep any food for the next day because God would provide for them again.  And He told them that on the 6th day they would have enough for the next day.  But they didn’t listen to God.  Or maybe they just didn’t trust Him enough.

But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell.  Exodus 16:20.

You would think that would have done it. God had told them not to keep any for the next day, that he would provide and when they kept it, look what that had left! YUCK!  Moses reminded them what God had said and that on the 6th day they would gather enough for two days so set it aside.  This time they some listened and trusted but others were skeptical.

So they put some aside until morning, just as Moses had commanded. And in the morning the leftover food was wholesome and good, without maggots or odor.  Moses said, “Eat this food today, for today is a Sabbath day dedicated to the Lord.  Some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day, but they found no food. The Lord asked Moses, How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days.” Exodus 16:24-25 and 27-29.

Wow!  Did you catch that?  God said that the Sabbath was a GIFT.  It is not a bad thing. Taking time to rest is a gift that He has given us.

So does this mean we supposed to sit on the couch and do nothing on Sundays? As I have been learning in this study, the Sabbath is not just a day but a mindset.  In Hebrew, Sabbath means rest, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything.  We need to find little bits and pieces of Sabbath margin throughout our days.

Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27.

Jesus then went on to heal a crippled man on the Sabbath.  He didn’t sit there with his hands crossed and say “Hey, today is the Sabbath, I can’t do anything today.”  He did what the needed to do to meet the needs of people.

We need to learn how to make time for rest in our lives so that we are able to enjoy the many gifts God has given us.  The gift of rest is so that we can live abundantly in Him and share His good news in the way we live our lives. And to make that time for rest, we need to learn to say “no.”

There are so many things that take up our time and we fill our days with work, running the kids to and from dance class and soccer games. We help them do homework, play trains. We clean the house, do the laundry, volunteer. But we also sit on the couch and watch tv. We live in a mindset of excess, not just in the things we do but how we think.  We want more. We do more, we buy more.  But God has told us that we need to realize his gift to us.

Sometimes we need to say “no.” What I say “no” to may be completely different than what you need to turn down.  For me, excess food and excess TV have been told “no” lately. Also, multitasking has had to take a back burner at times. I love working on things for my Beachbody Coaching business. But I realized that when I am trying to do that while spending time with my husband and my son, I am not enjoying those gifts to the fullest.

Sundays for my family are spent at church. Then in community with our Life Group. Then preparing meals for the week and then finally family time. Yes- I do prepare my meals on Sundays and that might be considered “working.” But I am making time for rest to cherish the time with my family during the week so that we can enjoy a meal together and have fun playing outside or with trains and balls and cars and whatever else suits my son’s fancy.

I am learning to say “no” to things that keep me from enjoying God’s gift of rest. Some days that may mean wearing my hair up and not fixing it so that I can take time to read my Bible study. Or it could mean that I don’t fix my meals on Sunday one week so that we can serve someone in our community. For many of us, we need to say “no” to late nights at work so that we can get home to our family.  Maybe we need to say “no” to doing laundry so that we jump in the piles and play with our sweet little children and show them how much we love them.

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And sometimes, we parents need to say “no” to our children. Make time to have special date nights and quality time with your spouse.

How will you make time for Sabbath margin in your life?

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