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When I was a swimming instructor, I spent a lot of time trying to get little kids to float. I would tell them to put their ears in the water and their belly buttons out of it, and I'd say, "When I count to two, you won't feel my hands underneath you, but they're there."
As soon as I'd say "two," most of the children would frantically jerk their knees towards their chins and flail their arms, dropping their full weight into my hands. Almost all people float when they assume a posture of rest, but people who think they'll sink don't keep that posture for long.
Faith is about a posture of rest, too. Many of us are terrified by the life of faith, needing always to feel the support of steady jobs, steady relationships, and back-up plans. God, knowing that, signed us up for swim lessons. The swim lessons are the Sabbaths.
Imagine the Israelites' first experience with the Sabbath. They had just been called away from everything they knew to live in tents. And in the middle of nowhere, where life-and-death emergencies seemed to come frequently, God was training them to worship him. God worked a steady stream of miracles that must have made the Israelites' hair stand on end.
The people got hungry two months into the journey. So God began to send them manna. Every day of the week but one, the Israelites gathered bread from heaven.
But on the seventh day—the day of the week that God had set apart as the holiest—he did not send the daily miracle. Nor did he want the people to work. Instead, they were to eat what they had gathered the day before, and to rest. It was the Sabbath, the day God's people didn't wake up to manna.
Sabbath always points to God's all-sufficiency. To use one illustration, it demonstrates that we do not live by labor alone. To use another, it shows us that God is still there when manna isn't. We are to place our faith in God, a surer bet ...