How the Sabbath saved me in college.


Josh Kelley

My former-student-now-friend, Josh Kelley, encountered the Sabbath in a new and dramatic way around the same time I did. We were both deeply convicted by our inability to keep the Sabbath and started a Bible study on the Sabbath. I asked Josh to share about his experience with the Sabbath to close out this mini-series on Sabbath.

My name is Joshua Kelley and I am currently the Children’s Pastor at AV Life Church, located in Lancaster, California. I am a recent graduate of Life Pacific College, where I was the ASB Director of Activities. I also have experience working with Foursquare’s SoCal District by helping direct internships as well as directing activities for the NextGen’s camps. 

Growing up in a Pentecostal upbringing, the term Sabbath seemed foreign to me. My understanding on this topic went as far as knowing that keeping the Sabbath was one of the commandments as well as it being a major Jewish practice. Having spent six years being actively involved in church and then spending three years at a Bible college, I was never taught nor was it modeled to me that keeping the Sabbath was something that believers should be actively carrying out in their lives. My understanding of a Sabbath was that one isn’t supposed to work for a day, even to the point where you can’t turn on a light. It wasn’t until my senior year where my perspective on this topic of Sabbath would be forever changed. To give you a greater context to my senior year, you should know that I was in the middle of my busiest year yet. At times I was working two to three different jobs, enduring semesters of 21 units and another of 27 units, as well as serving every weekend and Wednesday at a local church. This should have been the most draining and exhausting year yet. During the first week of the school year, my mentor took me to a leadership conference, where I heard A.J. Swoboda teach on the Sabbath. This speaker addressed why the Sabbath should be a principle that we actively practice. Little did I know that this conference would have a huge impact on my life. 

I remember thinking to myself on the drive home that I would try keeping a Sabbath for one day and if I didn’t feel better by the week’s end, then I would just give it up. That next day I committed to keep a whole 24-hour Sabbath and leading up to this, I was overcome by fear. I thought about all the intensive homework assignments that were due, all the events that I still needed to plan, and all the things that I still needed to prepare for Sunday’s church service. All of these responsibilities almost got me to not take this first Sabbath. I remember that I prayed and told God that I would at least try this out. I turned off my phone, put away my laptop, and started my Sabbath. The first thing I did was worship God. I noticed that my perspective immediately shifted from all of things that I had to do and shifted to being grateful for all that God has provided for me. Suddenly my perspective of all my tasks turned from them being a burden, to them being a blessing. I no longer felt like I had to all of these things, but that I get to do all of these things. During this first Sabbath, I focused on doing activities that bring me life. My daily activities consisted of taking a nap, eating good food, playing disc golf, singing worship songs, and having a time of prayer. These were activities that I love to do, but either neglect throughout the week or just don’t do during a normal week. 

During my time of prayer I really felt that God was showing me my true identity.

I never realized it, but I was a person who was equating busyness with faithfulness, and that is never the case.

God really showed me that he valued me as a son, and nothing that I could do would impress him more. I noticed that I have added so many unnecessary tasks to my life because I thought they would in some way show my faithfulness toward God, but in all reality, God never asked me to do any of those things. 

This first Sabbath really put everything into perspective for me. I no longer needed to add tasks to my life, and I, for once in my life, felt that I had all the energy in the world. Before my first Sabbath, I felt like I was running on empty, as if by the time I would go to bed at night, I couldn’t possibly do another task. After taking my first Sabbath, it felt as if I was thriving. I was able to reach all of my goals and still had a better perspective on life throughout the week. Things that normally took 7 days of the week to accomplish, I was getting done in 6 and never once felt rushed. Sabbath keeping is something that I regularly practice now. God did not intend for us to feel rushed with unnecessary tasks. God intended for humankind to feel rested and to not be overwhelmed by tasks throughout the week. Keeping the Sabbath was how I made it through one of the busiest years of my life, and something I that I still practice regularly.