Remember the Sabbath

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Remember the Sabbath by David Christenson Reserve Church steeple

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. ~ Exodus 20:8-11

We discussed this commandment, the 4th Commandment, at Bible study and it took us some time and it was time well spent. It was mentioned by one in our group that in the Old Testament days that the Jews were commanded by God to keep one whole day reserved for worshipping our Lord God. No work was to be done and it even included that we were only supposed to walk a short distance because anything longer would be construed as work. One who was inclined to adhere to the law would only work 6 days of a week and then give their whole 7th day to worship or to basically do nothing more. In more modern times we reserve a single hour or so to worship and then have taken the rest of that day for ourselves. So the human influence on the Sabbath turned away from a full day to that short hour or hours to give glory to God.

When I was growing up on the family farm in South Dakota the harvest time was very important to us as it still it to this day. When it was harvesting time we would work on Sunday, the day that is normally supposed to be a church day. Dad would always say that if God gave us such a good day to harvest, then we should harvest. But first we would go to church to worship and then go about our work. It was a rare thing for any other major work to be done on Sunday except during the harvest.

In the New Testament we are told of many times that the Pharisees tried to trick or trap Jesus in ways to contradict His teachings and His credibility. They told Jesus that it was against the law to work on the Sabbath and that included doing God’s own work of healing the sick and diseased. Jesus showed us that it could be okay for us to work on the Sabbath if it was work that was committed to God or His work.

One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue,  he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight.  When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!”  Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!

 

But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water?  This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”  This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did. ~ Luke 13:10-17 +++

 

The Sabbath is important to our Lord as it should also be for us. Sometimes it is being in the House of God that gives us a release of an ultimate stress. When I think of my church it is quite hard not to recall my first time back in church after the hit and run of November 2009.

This kind of thing had actually become more noticeable and important to me in early December 2009. I was still hospitalized and each morning a nurse, many times the same nurse each day, would come into my room and start asking all kinds of basic questions to test my short term memory. This is a normal thing when dealing with people that have a brain injury. I was pretty much correct on all those basic questions about my name, my family and kids, etc….. except I could never get the day right. It was lost …. in the blackness that was my mind.

What day is it today? Talk about frustration! Take a moment and think about how simple that question really is.

What day is it today? What day is it??

I love history and most of the books I’ve read in my life have been about history, about days, dates and times …. but I couldn’t remember the day.

One day the nurse scolded me saying that if I couldn’t remember the day I wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital. I replied to her saying I was sorry I couldn’t give her the correct day. But that I could remember every score of every football game I had ever played in. Who scored, how they scored, likely for both teams and that was almost 40 years ago …. She probably wondered just how much brain damage I had after hearing those comments.

Not long after that exchange a rumor was circulating that I might be granted a weekend pass soon. The next day I learned that the coming weekend would be the time for that.

Our daughter Margo and my wife Gretchen drove to Fargo that Saturday morning to pick me up. We were just a few miles out of Fargo when Gretchen asked me what I wanted to do for the weekend ….. I replied that I wanted to go to church. They exchanged a doubtful look at each other as they had already talked about what to do when we got home. And since I would be getting around with neck and leg braces while using a walker on fresh snow and ice … their decision was made to just stay at home because of the difficulty and danger those things presented to me. However, they agreed to try to get me to church.

We were able to go, and when we entered the sanctuary we got an ovation. There had been a prayer service at the church the previous Thursday night where people from the community had been praying for me, for my family and for the community to heal. So maybe it seemed that the prayers were being answered.

I had communion and then went to fellowship where many came over to talk to us.

Upon return to the rehab unit the very same nurse that had chastised me the week before about my memory issue came into my room the next day with her litany of questions. When she got to the day/date question I said with enthusiasm … “Today, is a day that will live in infamy” and the nurse must have thought I had fallen and hit my head even worse and had to ask me again. I said, “Today is December 7th. On December 7th 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Today is Pearl Harbor Day.”

I believe …. that I needed to go to church to get my life back on track. I needed to commune with the Lord to really start my recovery process ….. Every day… is just like the day before when we leave our church out of the equation. I took these happenings as a sign, a sign that I needed to learn more with this new borrowed time I’d been given.

For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” ~ Matthew 18:20 +++

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:25 +++

Pictured is the historic steeple of ther Reserve, NM Baptist Church, photo by Pastor Dewey

About David Christenson: He is a lifelong resident of South Dakota, grew up on a farm north of Claremont and attended school in Amherst and Britton, graduating from Britton in 1977.

David married Gretchen Tisher in 1984. Gretchen is also a graduate of Britton and teaches math and drama at Britton-Hecla high school. David and Gretchen have two children. Zach is an engineer for Continental Ag in Norfolk, Nebraska and his wife Amanda is a nurse. Margo lives in Denver and works as a Marketing & Outreach coordinator for MyLifeLine.org, a cancer support not-for-profit entity.

David started a cow/calf operation in the 1980s and farmed on the family farm after his high school graduation until December of 1994 when he accepted a sales position at the John Deere store in Britton. David left the John Deere sales position in March of 2006 and became a licensed crop insurance agent in May of 2006. David also started a rental business in 2010 and remained in the cattle business until January of 2012.

David, age 55, has had some extraordinary circumstances in his life. He was run over by a farm tractor before age 6 and had three heart attacks a few months before turning 40. Then he suffered life threatening injuries a few months after turning 50 in a hit and run incident. David was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012 and skin cancer in 2014.

David started writing his recovery experiences on Facebook in December of 2009. Over the next four years those Facebook notes became what would become chapters in his book, “Why Are You Here?” which was published in December of 2013.

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