When the original grid for the streets of Manhattan island was first laid out, there were no parks. The grid went all the way from the top to bottom. Central Park was the answer. A huge area of land right in the middle of the city that would be for all the people to escape the concrete jungle. That it wasn’t originally part of the plan illustrates the city’s obsession with productivity instead of healthy human living.
“God, after finishing his work of creation, proclaimed that, ‘it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31). God delighted over his creation. The Hebrew phrase communicates a sense of joy, completion, wonder, and play. This is particularly radical in a culture like ours, both secular and Christian, that is ‘delight deficient.'”*
Before I encountered Emotionally Healthy Spirituality the word “delight” was not often in my vocabulary. But when I think about what God intended for sabbath, it’s the perfect word. Six days of work, culminating in a day of delight.
Too often though, our worship of the idol of productivity chokes out any opportunity for delight. It is food for the soul, and without it we are not all that God created us to be. We are not machines that must constantly work until we break down and die. We are not slaves. We are sons and daughters of God, worthy of delight. And a twenty-four hour sabbath filled with delight is a gift from our loving Father.
I have noticed that many Christians in particular can have a hard time seeking delight because of a false sense of guilt in self indulgence. The way of Jesus calls us to sacrificially love others, but it does not call us to not love and care for ourselves. In the Bible Jesus is often at weddings, feasts, and banquets, and I think he had a lot of fun at them! In fact, he was the one who turned the water to wine at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1-12). If you need a command, then here it is: God commands you to have fun! 🙂
So what brings you delight? A good place to start with delight is to simply make a list of things that you love. I love mochas. I love skiing. I love the beach. I love writing in my journal. I love hiking. Make a list of the things that you love, and incorporate these things into your life, especially into your sabbath. It’s really that simple.
Delight will be different for everyone. You may be more extroverted and need to be with others. You may be more introverted and need to be by yourself. Find out what delights your soul and do it. God wants this for you – that’s one reason why he gives you 24-hour sabbath. Delight it often the most exciting part of a sabbath that makes it more than just a day off.
A good place to start with delight is in creation. Simply get outside and enjoy this amazing world! Walk through the park, sit by the water, gaze at the stars. After God finished his work of creating the universe, he proclaimed that: “it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31-2:3). In other words, he took delight in his creation.
Living in New York City can be a challenge (it’s the concrete jungle!), but having a set time of sabbath has helps me make sure I enjoy sabbath delight. My sabbath often becomes a day to either explore this amazing human creation of a city, or a day to get out of and delight in God’s creation. Either way, I have a day set aside to focus on the delight that my soul needs.
What brings you delight? Make your list of things you love. Embrace sabbath as a time to delight in the good things of this life that God has graciously given to us. As you incorporate sabbath into your life, do not leave out delight. Otherwise, sabbath could easily become another legalistic spiritual practice instead of something that brings life to your soul.
*Scazzero, Peter (2011-05-09). Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life In Christ (p. 169). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.