A healthy marriage is sustained by consistency. It is not the big moments—the wedding day, the birth of a child, the new home. It is the acts of love and commitment expressed daily, weekly and year after year.
Sustaining them is not always easy. One consistent practice I suggest to young parents is a date night. Too often their lives become consumed by their children’s. (I can attest to it.)
Yet, one of the best ways we can teach children the importance of family and relationships is by demonstrating dedication to one another. A date night helps make that into a habit.
A Little Time for Each Other
The habit can also help our relationship with God. Daily prayer is important, but a regular evening or morning of worship nurtures the relationship.
God knew that long ago and instituted a regular date with each of us called the Sabbath. For an hour or two, we sit with God. We pray, we sing, we eat. We talk about our week and let God speak into our lives.
The benefits this date night are manifold.
1. Space to grow: In the business of life, we can become so caught up in the trees that we miss the forest. The Sabbath lets us look at our lives from what the philosopher Spinoza called “the perspective of eternity.” We see what is insignificant and remind ourselves of what matters most.
Just like a married couple sometimes needs to step outside the grind of carpools and soccer games to remind themselves of their abiding love, so we need to step outside the messiness of the everyday and see the holiness up above.
2. Time to listen: God does not often speak directly. We need to discern God’s word. There is a reason the ancient Israelites received God’s law in the wilderness. They were not distracted by buildings and crowds.
The Sabbath is an opportunity to set daily distractions aside. In Jewish tradition we do not spend money or do physical labor. We rest. We reflect. We listen.
3. Energy to re-engage: Human beings are not energizer bunnies. We do not keep going and going and going. We need to pause in order to persist. We need to stop in order to surge. We need to recharge in order to return.
God built a day for rest into the natural order. The Sabbath is not only an obligation. It is a gift. And it is a gift that keeps on giving.