Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chad Karger's Sabbath Routine


Three kids in, 41 years later, and I can’t really sleep past 7 or 7:30
, even on my day of rest. I’m okay with that; no, I’m thankful for that -- the mornings are when God’s gift still have a new car smell to them. I like the quiet that fills my home in the early hours. During the week the kids have to get up so early for school; on Saturday morning (when there is not soccer games to be at), I can capture an hour or two before I hear feet coming down the stairs. I can pray for those still sleeping. I can have the coffee ready for my wife Meeka when she comes downstairs.

On Sat and Sun I get the newspaper (Houston Chronicle). Sometimes I feel guilty because I’ll read it before reading Scripture. Sometimes I don’t want to see it first because of all the bad news and angry and hurting people. Oftentimes, when I’m reading the paper, I also pray. I hate to be a spectator looking on as the world writhes in pain while I sip my coffee. Praying takes me out of the bleachers. Either before or after the paper, I open the Scriptures to receive from God’s Word. Sometimes I write in my journal while I’m reading. Sometimes I just read. Sometimes I’m reading what I’m going to be preaching on Sunday.

My Sabbath is observed on Saturday. There’s a heighten sense of everything on Saturdays. That is, I usually carry with me a very grateful sense that whether I’m working around the house, watching my kids play soccer, or riding my bike, I’m thankful to God; I’m worshipping. The next day, Sunday, will be a time when we sing and pray and laugh and learn and greet one another in community. We will gather to speak directly about what on Saturday was implicit throughout.

I enjoy leftovers or a turkey sandwich for lunch around 11:30AM. I will usually grab a section of the paper I didn’t read that morning while I eat. Sometimes I’ll prepare lunch for the kids. When I remember that “This Old House” is on during lunch, I like to watch that on Saturdays. Or, if not that, then I’ll watch a Premier League match.

This is a day I spend mostly with my family. Friendships that are energizing and life-giving could be part of our plans on this day, but not necessarily. We do spend a lot of time with families on our kids’ soccer teams. At the end of the day, though, I’d prefer to be with my wife and three kids on this day. We have fun together and their company feels me with gratitude.

Rest definitely includes reclining. It also includes some work around the house or in the yard. I will usually work either a long bike ride or a run into the day. A long bike ride can be anywhere between 25 and 50 miles. Sometimes I’ll go with friends on the ride. More often than not, I’m alone with my thoughts, a podcast, or some music. I like to ride my bike; it’s a bonus that it counts as exercise. A run isn’t as much fun for me, but, the physical exercise is always good for my mind, body, and spirit. That time is usually followed up with an afternoon coffee and maybe reading a book or periodical. One thing I work hard at doing on this day is not answering all the phone calls or replying to emails. That’s for another day.

Grilling on Saturdays has become a tradition for us. I enjoy it and it usually tastes really good. Mostly it’s burgers. Sometimes we will have fajitas. There’s usually a desert involved, too. We sit around our table and talk with one another about all kinds of things. Sometimes it’s serious and focused. Sometimes it’s lots of laughter and cutting up. Our mornings and early afternoons are at soccer fields -- sometimes that leisurely, sometimes not. Movies, documentaries, or sporting events are part of our evening entertainment. Or, we will play a game.

Around dinnertime I usually wonder if I’ve spent the day as I had hoped. If I’m irritated by something done or not done, I try to let it go and just recline into the evening with my family. I try to avoid looking forward and worrying about what tomorrow holds. The day comes to a close usually around 11:30 with a book or magazine. I get to sleep with my lovely wife. As is the case most every night, I end the day by saying the Lord's Prayer.

Chad Karger is the founder/director of BetterDays. He is an author and current lead pastor at Christ Church Northheast in Kingwood, Texas. Having grown up in the home of a pastor and having served in the local church for seventeen years, he has a realistic understanding about the demands upon the lives of ministry leaders and pastors. He holds a masters degree in Biblical Counseling from Colorado Christian University.

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