Over this next year, InterVarsity staff are intentionally practicing Sabbath together in ways that fit our unique roles, passions, ages, and stages. We’ll offer testimonies from current and former staff that help us all reenvision how we can engage in this important practice with joy and intention. Today’s post is by Diana Collymore, a missions mobilizer and strategist in our Missions Department whose church backgrounds include Plymouth Brethren, charismatic inter-denominational, United Methodist, and non-denominational urban.
Reflecting back on my childhood, I now recognize my parents practiced Sabbath rest on Sundays without formally labeling it as such. My African Caribbean parents brought the habit of Sunday afternoon rest from their island culture. It was a practice that was originally introduced to their country through the Church. For my parents, Sunday was a day to pause after a week of working in demanding physical labor combined with the care of family and home. They never stopped working except on the Lord’s Day. Corporate worship on Sunday morning was followed by a meal, a quiet afternoon, and more time with the people of God in a worship service before ending the day—this was Sabbath practice for the Collymore family.
Sabbath continues to be a work in progress for me. When I first joined InterVarsity, God was clear about taking up the practice. You know how God repeats himself about something because he wants you to “get it.” Or maybe he just does that with me. In this new career with campus ministry, Sabbath came up in discussions with my supervisor, articles, and conferences. I got the message. It is a practice that I passed on to the students that were entrusted to me during my first years on campus.
Like my ministry assignment has changed over the years, so have my habits. After a while I was relearning the practice of Sabbath. An intentional time of resting from work—both vocational and personal—took readjustment. For me, the practice of Sabbath requires adhering to boundaries. There is always something that can take up my time and energy. A quick stop at the store usually turns into completing the shopping for the week. I’ve found that “one item” turns into a multistore shopping exercise. That quick glance at email becomes an hour of writing messages.
On the days that Sabbath goes well, there is laughter with friends and good coffee. Other times the enticing smells from a new recipe waft in my apartment. There can be exploration of a park or the zoo. On the days that Sabbath does not go well, I am often blurry-eyed and sluggish after what turned into hours of television. As I continue to learn more about my habits, I learn where to create boundaries that will move me toward healthy practices. I have found that the busier the season the more I need to practice keeping Sabbath. In these seasons Sabbath reminds me that work is not my everything. While my labor is valued it is not the crucial driver. Sabbath is an exercise that forms a trust that God sees more in me than the work that I produce.