Today, we’re talking about Sabbath. We are busy people living fast lives, trying to keep up, and in the middle of our madness, porn offers us an escape, a chance to get away and take a break and forget about the relentless rush of responsibilities and the burdens we're carrying. In other words, porn is not just a cheap substitute for sex, it's also a cheap substitute for rest. So, if you want to be free from porn, you need to learn how to rest, how to drink deeply from the sweetness of Sabbath.
Recently, it seems like more and more people are discovering the value of Sabbath. There are some great new books about this topic, specifically The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, and To Hell with the Hustle by Jefferson Bethke. Those two authors teamed up to create a podcast called Fight Hustle, End Hurry. I highly recommend it.
Both of these authors are helping us understand how the Sabbath is not a boring, outdated obligation. In fact, it's a redemptive, healing, restorative way of following Jesus in a world that creates slavery to performance, work, achievement and career. Jesus wants to offer us life to the full, and the Sabbath is a gift that helps us do that.
One of the most practical pieces of advice I got from Jefferson Bethke was the 1-1-1 rule. Basically, you take one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year to rest, to replenish, to refresh, to rejuvenate. I wonder if that 1-1-1 rule seems simple and easy or challenging and daunting to you? In any case, I highly recommend it.
My best piece of advice for designing a day of delight for that one Sabbath day per week is this: treat the Sabbath like sex.
Some of you might be thinking, “Drew, what are you talking about?” Well, think about it. The Sabbath and sex have a lot in common. They're supposed to be Holy, sacred signs of a covenant. Timothy Keller calls sex a covenant renewal ceremony. I couldn't agree more. And that also applies to the Sabbath. It's a sign of our covenant with God. It's a time of worship, celebration, connecting with others, and experiencing play, pleasure, and joy. That's what the Sabbath is about and that's what sex is about.
They also have other things in common. In both sexual intercourse and the Sabbath, we set aside work. We set aside distractions and we take time to focus on relationships — to just be with God, be with one another, and be in our bodies in a restorative way. I believe a great Sabbath is like great sex that leaves you in breathless wonder at the beauty of God.
So how do you have a great Sabbath? I think we can learn a lot from what we know about how to have great sex. But there is an important difference between Sabbath and sex. The Sabbath is available to everyone. Sex is not. Sexual intercourse is neither possible nor appropriate for everyone, but anybody can have a Sabbath. Anybody can enter the goodness, joy, beauty, pleasure, rest, and rejuvenation that the Lord wants to give us in these rhythms of rest and refreshment.
I believe we can learn a ton about how to have a great Sabbath and design a day of delight based on what we know about how to have great sex. In the book When Two Become One: Enhancing Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Christopher and Rachel McCluskey, they talk about the lovemaking cycle. It's basically a pattern that describes great sexual intercourse that enhances pleasure and connection and worship according to God's design. When I read that, and in the year since then, I realized that cycle applies to the Sabbath. And if you want a Sabbath that takes you to new heights of pleasure, connection, and worship, and reduces your urge to use porn, the lovemaking cycle is a great way to start. You can use this cycle as a pattern to design your day of delight.
Here's how that cycle can help you design a day of delight for your Sabbath. First, the atmosphere. You need to anticipate and prepare the environment ahead of time. Decide what you're going to do, and make sure you have enough time, energy and privacy to do it. Maybe you need to put your phone away. Maybe you need to go to a location where people can’t access you. Just set the atmosphere so you can actually relax. Just like in sex, we need that atmosphere to get started.
Then we move to arousal. Arousal is where you actually start doing the activity and allowing yourself to enjoy it. Enter a state of childlike, playful vulnerability. Notice that I said childlike, not childish. This is where you will allow yourself to play and actually experience the simple joy of being present to the activity. Just like in sex, we actually need to let down our walls and open our hearts to whatever the activity is. This is why sometimes with my private clients and audience members, I'll ask, “what activity did you love as a kid that you haven't done in years?” Maybe it's Legos. Maybe it's archery. Maybe it's playing the piano. Those are great ideas for what to do on your Sabbath. In the stage of arousal, you begin to get into it and become like a little kid again.
Stage three is the apex. In the middle of this activity and in the middle of your Sabbath, allow yourself to surrender to the moment — to be present to it and to let go of control and just connect with God in the middle of it. That's what great sexual intercourse is designed to help us do and to worship Him in the glory of what we're experiencing. You can do that exact same thing on your Sabbath.
And the final stage is afterglow. Build in some space at the end of your Sabbath to appreciate what just happened. Enjoy it. Reflect on it. Maybe journal or process it with another person. In any case, savor the flavor. Don't immediately go back to the rush and the relentless responsibilities. Build in some space to stop, to pause, and to practice gratitude. This is the most important part of the cycle, which I often neglect. It's also the sweetest one, where you can say, “wow, that was awesome.”
How does that sound to you? Does the Sabbath still seem like a boring, outdated obligation? I don't think so. Not when you treat it like sex. If you want to put this into practice and design a day of delight for yourself, I've created a worksheet to help you.
Always remember my friend, the Sabbath is available. It's reminding you that you are God's beloved son apart from everything you do and don't do. And in you, he is well-pleased.