The Hebrew word sabbath literally means “to rest”. This isn’t a mandate to take a nap (although you certainly could do that). It’s a time to take a break from the daily grind and do something different. Even though Sabbath is meant to be awesome every single time it rolls around, anything done the same way for a long enough period of time can start to feel a bit stale and sometimes this can even happen on *gasp* the Sabbath! So if your Sabbath routine is leaving you feeling rusted instead of rested then this post is for you. Of course these are just suggestions–if you don’t like them, it’s your party and you can cry if you want to. If you have something to add, throw up a comment!
There are so many ways to volunteer that it’s almost ridiculous (and you have no excuse not to volunteer). One of the coolest sites I’ve seen in a long time (started by a couple of Googlers) is called All For Good–it makes finding ways to volunteer right in your area SOOO easy. You can try mentoring if you want to make a difference in the life of a kid. If you’re into helping animals, find a local animal shelter where you can put in some time. You can build homes for Habitat for Humanity, volunteer at your local food bank, rake someone’s yard, beautify the grounds of your school (or church or neighborhood) by picking up trash or get involved in a local youth center. If you need even more ideas, check out this site or this site.
Why fun? Being selfish, even with your time, is only fun for a little while. If you really want to do something fun, you should try making a difference in someone’s life.
Why Sabbath? God loves you. You love you. But do you love your neighbor? The Sabbath shows God cares about you, so it’s a perfect time to pass it on and show someone else you care about them.
Get Some Exercise
Don’t be lazy. Your body is a temple and you should take care of it! You probably do enough sitting all week at school or at your job. If it’s nice outdoors, get out there and do some walking/biking/backpacking/rock climbing/skateboarding/kayaking/jogging/hiking/swimming or any other healthy “ing” word I left out. Take some friends along or take some time to hang out alone and get away from it all. You should definitely get out in nature. If you live in a state like Colorado this is easy. If you live in a state like Nebraska this is harder. Even so, if you do find yourself in a place missing cool geological features like mountains, glaciers, white water rapids and huge boulders there is hope. Find a trail and take it as far as you can. Just enjoy what’s around you. Better yet, make a habit out of it and get that butt in shape! Need some ideas for what you can do in your area? Site’s like Backpacker or Outside can point you in the right direction. If you’re in an area that is pretty flat, just Google “trails” + “your state” and see what comes up.
Why fun? Depending on who you are, exercise is either really fun or really terrible. No matter who you are, you’ll love how it feels to be in shape.
Why Sabbath? I can’t think of a better time to get out and exercise for an extended period of time. Throw a little nature into the mix and you can get a little closer to the Creator too.
Do you have a couple of spiritual puzzlers that have been racking your brain lately? Write them down and run them by your pastor, family or friends. Actively pursue some answers. Ask the same question to multiple people and see what you come up with. You could even make a movie out of the experience (or write a song, make a blog post, etc…). This is a great opportunity to grow as a person. Maybe you want to know what the meaning of life is or where true happiness comes from or maybe you’ve got a fluffier question like how long it takes angels to travel from heaven to earth. Are abortions acceptable? How many times should a person be forgiven? Why can’t I break this stupid habit? Does God have a sense of humor? Here’s a question for you: what are you waiting for? Make like the riddler (minus the goofy green tights and diabolical attitude) and start asking some serious questions! Need a list of questions to get you started? Give this a try.
Why fun? Do you remember what it feels like when you learn something astonishing or when something finally “clicks” in your brain that you’ve been wondering about forever? That’s a good feeling right?
Why Sabbath? There’s always more to learn about God and since Sabbath is all about God it’s the perfect time to get a little deeper. In fact, the more you know the more you realize you don’t know. What better way to get to know someone than to ask some questions?
Adopt an Elderly Person
Think of all the nice old people who are languishing their final years away all alone in a nursing home. What if you were them? You might be one day–stuck in bed or confined to a wheelchair. Some of those poor people don’t even have any family left. If you were them wouldn’t it be a crazy surprise if someone came to see you and talk for awhile? You could literally make someone’s day and it wouldn’t cost you a thing–just your time. This article about visiting nursing home residents was actually written with the idea of taking children to visit the elderly in mind but has some awesome tips you can use. You might also want to check out How to Feel Comfortable Visiting a Nursing Home in case the thought gives you the willies or you are worried about your people skills in that situation.
Why fun? Seeing the eyes of a shut in light-up and a smile creep across their face just because you showed up and said hi is one of the coolest things in the world. Sure, they may think you’re their long-lost son Heathcliff, but that’s fine. If you’re ever feeling down about yourself like nobody cares whether or not you exist just go visit a nursing home!
Why Sabbath? Jesus cares about all people and so should you. The problem is that you don’t always have time to do missional stuff like this…
Write a Song / Start a Band
Music is a great way to tell a story or get someone thinking about something they wouldn’t normally consider. Plus, starting a band is a great excuse for hanging out with your friends! If you’ve got an Apple computer you’ve already got everything you need to get started making some music with Garageband (got an iPad – check out Garageband for iPad). If you’ve never written a song before, check out this link: How to Write a Song.
Why fun? If you’re a musician you probably don’t get a lot of time during the week to mess around with your guitar, drums, bass, nose-flute etc. so spending some time writing/playing music can be therapeutic.
Why Sabbath? I’m sure there are plenty of songs that have left a lasting impression on you. Now’s your chance to write a song that will bless someone else. Plus, the end of a busy week is the perfect time to get poetic and reflect on what’s been happening in your life.
Brush Up on Your Reading
If you don’t have a good book you can always hit the internet in search of something stimulating to expand your mind. As long as you’ve got some free time, why not dive into the world of Christian apologetics by reading some Ravi Zacharias? Learning doesn’t have to be boring (although school can make it seem revolting at times). It helps if you’re really interested in a particular subject. If there’s something out there that you’ve always thought would be cool to know more about that can expand your horizons–go for it.
Why fun? Have you ever read a book you couldn’t put down? Exactly.
Why Sabbath? If you want to spend your time getting closer to God, reading is one of the best ways and Sabbath is like the best day.
Make Some Food and…
…bring it to someone who you know doesn’t have enough money to eat a proper meal, someone who physically or emotionally (maybe after a bad experience) can’t make something for themselves, someone who needs a friend to stop by because they are lonely… you get the picture. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be vegetarian (some people are meatetarians, you know). It doesn’t have to cost a lot. It just has to show you care. Even if you aren’t the world’s best chef, cookies are pretty easy (or try these vegan agave nectar cookies for something healthier) and are always good for brightening up someone’s day. If you live in the dorm, I’m sure you have access to a kitchen somewhere.
Why fun? If you don’t do much cooking (especially if you’re a dude–let’s face it–most guys still don’t cook as much for whatever reason), it can be a great way to change up your routine.
Why Sabbath? Food is a basic need. People need to eat. Making food is an easy way to reach out to people and Sabbath may be one of the only times you get a break in your busy schedule to do something like this.
If you enjoy writing you should start a blog. Writing gives you a chance to get stuff off your chest, share good ideas with the world, document what’s been happening in your life and build up a following. Writing is also pretty easy, especially when you’re talking about something you find important. If you don’t have the attention span to write a long blog post you can always hit the micro-blogging scene and put your most quotable quips up on Twitter. If you’re looking for tips on how to be a better blogger (including how to get started in the first place) you’ll definitely want to stop by the Pro Blogger blog. Want an immediate audience? Write a blog post for Outlook. Seriously, if you send us a post talking about God, life, friends, love–whatever spiritual stuff is important to you and your friends–there’s a 99% chance we’ll publish it here on this site!
Why fun? There’s something thrilling about writing something other people will enjoy reading (or hate reading in some cases).
Why Sabbath? Just like we are changed by what we see, we are changed by what we write. Writing can change perspectives and change lives (including your own) and a quiet Saturday afternoon is a great time to gather your thoughts after a busy week.
Make a Movie
Few things in modern society can have such a massive impact on people as television and movies. Video is an insanely powerful platform for telling a story and the cool thing is, it has never been easier to produce and distribute. All you need is an idea and a decent mobile phone. Your video could be as simple as pointing the camera at your face and busting loose with a song or as in-depth as creating a complete reality TV series with a new webisode posted each week (sort of like what you see on Revision3). You can even dream big and submit your film for inclusion in a festival like SONscreen. Or you could dream a little smaller and just upload your vid to YouTube or Vimeo to share with your buddies. If you can stand in front of a camera and talk (like this), or have a friend who likes to talk more than you, you can make a cool video. Check out Vimeo’s Video School to learn the basics of creating your own movie.
Why fun? Creating is fun–thinking of ideas, making them happen and then enjoying the results. Everyone has something important to share with the world and it’s satisfying to be heard.
Why Sabbath? Unless you are Steven Spielberg, you probably don’t make movies everyday. Just like a life well-lived is a powerful testimony, a movie well-made can reach hearts and minds in a super-compelling way. It doesn’t even have to have any spoken words. This nature flick of a volcano erupting, for example, really speaks to me about the power of God (especially 50 seconds in). It’s sad, beautiful, awe-inspiring and mysterious all at the same time.
Start a Non-Profit/Charity
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for life.” Non-profits are sort of like that: you can help maybe a small group of people of your own power or you can start a non-profit organization that could potentially help hundreds or even thousands of people. You’ve probably thought to yourself at some point, “Hmm. Someone should do _____,” or, “Why isn’t there a ______?” Maybe there is a certain injustice in the world that grates on you–why not take a crack at fixing it? Be forewarned, starting a non-profit company is not for the faint of heart–take it from me and my own personal experience. It takes a certain type of person who has patience and foresight and who doesn’t get discouraged easily. That said, starting a non-profit can be a hugely rewarding experience. For some great advice and to see what kind of an impact can be made, check out this interview I did with Tom Barber from People’s City Mission. If you are serious about getting something started, there are some excellent resources over at the Society for Non-Profit Organizations and you should read this article titled 7 Essential Tips for Starting a Non-Profit.
Why fun? Helping a person is fun. Helping a lot of people is preposterously fun.
Why Sabbath? Helping people is Sabbath-worthy. Pastors do it. You can do it to.
BOUNS IDEA #1: Make a New Friend
BONUS IDEA#2: Patch-Up a Bad Relationship
BONUS IDEA#3: Take Some Photos
What Am I Missing?
I know you’ve got some cool ideas about fun ways to spend the Sabbath. Or maybe you have some not-so-fun ways (not everything in life has to be fun, that’s just what this post was focusing on). Either way, let me know by leaving a comment.