In my last post, I began a series I’m calling “Sabbath Reflections,” in which I plan to share what God (YHWH) is teaching me as my family and I continue our journey down this new path.
I call it “new” because my relationship with YHWH has radically changed in the last few months, and it feels very new to me, though I have called myself a Christian for a long time. As I mentioned in the previous reflection, we recently began observing His Shabbat, or Sabbath. We have started to attend a new fellowship on Saturdays, and in our quest to follow Yeshua have also decided to walk away from the man-made traditions of Christmas and Easter in favor of celebrating His feasts or holy days. We still have quite a lot to learn, but so far His blessings in all of this have been absolutely incredible.
Today, we closed on our house and said goodbye to the place where we have happily shared four years of amazing memories, including the peaceful home birth of two babies and all of the milestones that come with raising them into toddlerhood. And I wanted to take this time to share everything that has led us up to this point, because I believe our Father has been teaching us some phenomenal truths.
I’ll start from the point where we decided to put our house on the market.
I was laid off from my full-time work-at-home job with FamilyArc in September and left wondering how we were going to continue living on the extremely limited income we had built through our home-based online marketing business. I was scared, yet still retained a strange sense of peace through it all. Though I dreaded the thought of going back to working a 9-to-5 office job in the corporate world after being at home for 2+ years, somehow I knew that God was going to provide. Still, things began to get a bit uncomfortable for us financially, and we considered the idea of putting our house on the market.
I recalled a conversation with our pastor at Citylight about a non-profit organization called Apartment Life. This ministry places couples into apartments at an extremely discounted rate in exchange for their service as a CARES team. In a nutshell CARES teams work to create a better sense of community by hosting events and building relationships with their neighbors. The hope is that those relationships will present them with the opportunity to share the Gospel in a natural, organic way. We began to feel a very strong pull toward this ministry and decided to apply to become a CARES team. Of course, we’d have to sell our house before moving into an apartment, so we asked my sister-in-law, who’s a local real estate agent, to help us put it on the market.
Meanwhile, we came into some new teachings about the Gospel, and our relationship with YHWH began to radically change. His Word came alive to me and I developed a yearning to read and study it like never before—to search the Scriptures and see if these things I believed I heard Him saying were actually true. We began keeping the Sabbath and attending a second fellowship on Saturday mornings as part of that. I felt like we were on the right path, but the responses of those around us were not always favorable as we began to share our hearts, and of course, in the midst of feeling somewhat persecuted by our own family and friends, I began to question the validity of my “newfound” faith.
After about 20 showings, we finally received an offer from an 86-year-old gentleman in Charleston who wanted to purchase our house. I was thrilled. I said to myself, “we must be on the right path. God says that his law (Torah) is for our good (not for salvation, which only comes by grace through faith in Yeshua … but I won’t get into that here). We’ve only begun observing His Shabbat, and He’s already blessing us through it!”
The day of the appraisal, (which happened to be a Friday, just hours before the beginning of Shabbat) we received a phone call. Our offer fell through. Not to worry though. We had a back-up offer from another couple who had viewed our house the same day that the first offer had come in.
But me being the doubter that I am, I worried still. That day, I left to go work at a Starbucks nearby, and it was difficult to concentrate. I began to question YHWH. “Maybe we are on the wrong path,” I said to myself. “Maybe we are not supposed to follow His Torah. In my quest to be an obedient child of God, have I fallen from grace?”
The questioning only persisted when Jereme called to let me know that in his attempt to pick up Oskar from the groomer and get home before sundown (before our Sabbath rest was to officially begin), he had backed into the side of our garage, knocked the door frame out of alignment, and damaged his car. I recalled how just one week prior, as Jereme had been rushing to cook dinner so as to be finished before sundown as well, Indie fell off a kitchen chair and knocked her front tooth sideways.
“We’ve experienced distress—not rest—two Sabbaths in a row … Maybe YHWH is punishing us for trying to walk in His ways,” I thought.
As I read that sentence now, I can’t help but laugh. But when everyone is telling you that by following Torah, observing His appointed times, and walking away from man-made pagan traditions, you’ve somehow “fallen from grace” (per a twisted reading of Galatians 5:4) it’s easy to wonder if they might be right. Especially when your Sabbath observance isn’t going as well as you had hoped or anticipated.
It’s also easy for them to actually be right. I’ve learned, since then, that the path between legalism and lawlessness is very narrow. In our attempt to obey the Spirit, if we’re not careful, we could slip into legalism in an instant. At the same time, modern-day Christianity teaches that the law was done away with altogether, and we wonder why there’s a spirit of lawlessness running rampant in our world…
In our quest to avoid lawlessness, Jereme and I came very close to slipping into legalism.
“There’s no way dinner will be ready before the sun goes down … but if I order takeout, I’m still technically breaking the rule that you’re not supposed to buy or sell on the Sabbath … hmm …”
“Indie’s gums are gushing blood, but we’re not supposed to buy or sell … should I go to the store and get something to relieve her pain or allow her to suffer so I don’t break this day of rest?”
“It’s 4:45, and the groomer just called to let us know Oskar was ready to be picked up from his appointment … traffic is horrible; I better hurry if I’m going to get home before the sun sets.”
These were the thoughts running through our heads. The thoughts of a modern-day, legalistic Pharisee.
“Relax,” I heard the Spirit say. “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”
This is a day of rest, and rest is a blessing He chose to bestow on His children. Like all of his other commands, which He says are not burdensome (1 John 5:3), this is not some obligatory chore that we must adhere to or He’ll banish us to hell. It’s a time that we get to carve out for Him. A time where we get to rest from our work, read His Word, listen to His voice, and fellowship with His people who are on the same journey.
I remember complaining to YHWH on my way home from Starbucks after Jereme called to let me know about the car situation. I remember thinking that maybe we were on the wrong path, and that maybe every pastor in America who preaches that the law was done away with, and that the Sabbath is just some spiritual metaphor for the eternal rest we have in Jesus, is right, and that surely I must be deceived. I prayed and asked Him to show me if that was the case.
It didn’t even take 24 hours, and He was clear as day. Isn’t YHWH awesome? 🙂
We went to our Saturday Fellowship and heard this message:
And here’s the cherry to top the icing on the cake. That night, I received this email from my sister-in-law:
Hello, my name is Gaby, I recently had the pleasure of walking through your beautiful home. I know we don’t know each other, but I wanted to let you know a little about myself and MY fiancé with the hopes that you would take into careful consideration our offer to purchase your home. We are a young, professional, engaged couple that moved to SC about a year ago. We are both originally from Miami FL. We moved here with the dreams of finding our perfect home and starting our new life as a soon to be married couple. We have excellent careers and one day will hopefully be blessed with children as well. We have been renting since we moved here and diligently looking for a home to call ours. We are holding off on wedding plans as purchasing a home has been our #1 priority. I will say after looking at many homes your home was ” the one” we fell in love with. You’ve kept it in excellent condition, and its everything we’ve been looking for. I have the ability to work from home, so the corner office I have already pictured myself in. The essential oils you had in your master bath drew my attention as I am also into the all-natural/organic products & love essential oils. It really made it feel like home for me already! I understand there is another offer out there and I’d imagine it’s not a great feeling to have to tell someone else no and it even feels wrong to put in a back-up offer while there is one on the table but I just had to. I wouldn’t be doing it if I did not feel 100% sure that this just feels completely right. I got an instant feeling and was so excited about it. I can really envision this home as the home where I become a wife, a mom etc… As I have stated before we are renting and our lease will be up very soon. We are first time home buyers, have no obligations and we are ready to make that move as soon as you say the word. Thank you for taking the time to read all of this. I look forward to hopefully working with you in the very near future.