(Open letter to my children and any others that may desire to read it)
My dear and dearly loved Lee/Jennifer and Briana/Jonathan,
The year 2011 will always be remembered in my life as the year that I actually began to intentionally obey the fourth commandment. All my life up until this year I was a Sabbath-breaker. Not intentionally I assure you. But nevertheless while I would never have thought of intentionally taking God’s name in vain or worshipping idols or dishonoring my parents or murdering someone or breaking any of the other Ten Commandments, it never dawned on me that keeping the Sabbath holy was important. I am so sad about this for I robbed you and me of so much. My dear children, remember, when you break God’s laws you are always the loser. God gave those commands because He loves you and wants your life to be the very best it can be.
Remember, life is a gift that comes in a box called “time” and God’s laws are the instructions that are included in the box.
The reason that I feel this loss so severely is illustrated in Jesus’ words to the Pharisees concerning divorce. When they asked Jesus what he thought about divorce he referred them back to the creation story: “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,” and He also said: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-5)
Then the Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why then did Moses command us to give divorce papers and to send her away?” (Matthew 19:7)
Catch this! Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts. But it was not like that from the beginning.” (Matthew 19:8)
The reason I am sad that it took me 54 years to figure out the importance of observing the Sabbath is that in the beginning God created the world to rest on the seventh day. Delighting in Sabbath is a part of God’s design for living a purposeful and fulfilling life. Because of the hardness of my heart, God made allowances for me but I grieve for all the blessings and delights I missed with you over the years because I did not intentionally take time each week to lead you in delighting ourselves in God’s wonderful gift to us called Sabbath.
Over the years we did a lot of wonderful things together but if you will remember it was always in the context of when I had time. Work always took precedent. Even our vacations and “days off” were in the context of work. There was nothing sacred or God-honoring about them. I am so sorry .
There’s nothing I can do about the past. However, I can do something about the future and I’m off to a good start. I hope you will learn from my example (both my bad example and good example).
I observe your lives and see how busy you are. Your families are growing and your responsibilities are growing. If you are not careful, work and duties and chores and other people’s expectations will crowd out Sabbath. Please do not let that happen. Remember, there will be a lot of people and issues fighting for your time, energy, and resources. But no one will be fighting for your family – that’s your job. I encourage you to be intentional about calibrating your life around “the seventh day” and making sure that you intentionally rest from your labor and delight yourself in God and the wonderful family and blessings that He has given you.
Remember my dearly loved children, this is not a legalistic/duty issue. Your Sabbath may be Sunday or Tuesday or any other day of the week; but the important thing is that you nail it down and stick with it – come hell or high water!
Well, that’s enough “preaching” for now (I assure you if I live there will be more ). As I close out the year let me assure you of my love and commitment to do my best to model a Sabbath life before you and those wonderful grandchildren that you have given me. I am truly a blessed man…blessed in having you four as children given by God.