The Gifts of Sabbath

In mid-November, the Leadership Transformations family celebrated our 8th Anniversary in a variety of ways, starting with an event entitled “Re-Ignited: Kindling Our Inner Fire for God.” During one of the plenary sessions I spoke about “Feeding the Neglected Soul,” and suggested five inviting ways we can nurture our souls.
The first way we feed our neglected soul is to open ourselves fully to receive the abundance of our Heavenly Father’s loving embrace (blog entry 11.18.11).
The second way I suggested is to trust in the Spirit to create from deep within us a transformative walk of faith (blog entry 11.28.11).
Thirdly, we feed our soul by leaning into the manifold gifts of Sabbath – both as a day set aside for rest as well as pursuing a lifestyle of spacious encounters and mini-Sabbaths with God. What are the gifts of Sabbath? Several have written about this subject (see our store for suggested readings ), and the rhythmic gifts that rise to the surface from writers like Marva Dawn, Don Postema, and Mark Buchanan are fourfold.
The first gift of Sabbath is “ceasing” – purposefully halting the usual activity and pace of life in order to step into spaciousness, including silence and solitude. Ceasing what you normally do in a day to create wide open space that will prepare you for heightened attentiveness to God is the goal. Ceasing is hard to do; the clutter of our inner and exterior worlds continuously fights against this priority.
The second gift of Sabbath is “resting” – allowing your body, mind and heart to slow down and receive the loving initiatives of God. In full submission and surrender, we find rest by trustingly falling into the embrace of God. In order to get to this place of receptivity we need to choose rest that’s adrenalin-free, out of which we discover a deep awareness of his gentleness toward us as beloved children.
The third gift of Sabbath is “celebrating” – acknowledging with joyful delight and thanksgiving that we belong to the family of God. In worship, fellowship, and mutual edification, the “we” of Sabbath comes alive with others who share our Sabbath longings as children of the heavenly Father. Enjoying times of prayerful worship and deeply meaningful fellowship are hallmarks of true Sabbath for the people of God.
The fourth gift of Sabbath is “embracing” – discovering afresh the richness of our desires and longings to be all that God invites us to fulfill in this life. When we embrace our calling and faithfully seek his will for our lives, we become more intentional about loving and serving in his name. The gifts of Sabbath come alive as we re-engage our world for the sake of Christ.
Leaning into the gifts of Sabbath feeds our soul and leads us into a more intimate walk with God. May it be so for you this Advent season and into the new year.
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord,” Isaiah 58: 13,14a.


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

Steve is a graduate of Northwestern College (IA) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div. and D.Min.). His prior ministry includes serving on the pastoral staff at Grace Chapel (Lexington, MA) and as president of Vision New England. Since July 1, 2003 Steve has served as founder and president of Leadership Transformations, director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building, and adjunct faculty in the Doctor of Ministry department at Gordon-Conwell. He is the author of sixteen books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective),  Baker bestseller Becoming a Healthy Church, and Crafting a Rule of Life (IVP). He lives in the Boston area with his wife Ruth and is the proud father of two grown children, Rebekah and Nathan, daughter in-love Ashley, and papa to his beloved granddaughter, Brenna Lynn and twin grandsons, Aiden Joseph and Carson Stephen. “My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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