President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently suggested a different way of looking at the Sabbath: “…I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, ‘What sign do I want to give to God?’” (“The Sabbath Is a Delight,” President Russell M. Nelson, April 2015 General Conference).
Elder Alain L. Allard of the Seventy commented, “As other commandments of God can do, Sabbath day observance allows us to show what is in our heart. What a privilege, as an indication of our relationship with Him, to be able to return a sign to our Father in Heaven.” http://www.mormonnewsroom.ca/article/canadian-mormons-follow-counsel-to-better-observe-sabbath-day
Brent and Rachelle Shipley of Cardston, Alberta, have learned to face challenges in keeping the Sabbath, to see them as blessings, and to show a sign to the Lord of obedience and joy in the face of adversity.
Our Sundays have changed a lot for our family over the years. It’s not that we all haven’t grown up attending church and trying to keep the Sabbath day holy, but life circumstances have helped us appreciate the Sabbath as the Lords day.
Our second child and oldest son Kevin has Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, which causes increasing muscle weakness, and therefore we provide him with full care. We have had people in our home to help care for him for many years. We decided those many years ago that Sunday would be the day that we wouldn’t employ anyone to come into our home and work; it was going to be a day for family, and we would do our best not to make anyone else work. As the scriptures teach us: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; But the seventh day, the sabbath of the Lord thy God, thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Mosiah 13:16-19). We didn’t know then what was ahead, but we stuck to our decision.
About a year and a half ago our son had four compression fractures to his spine which has left him in a lot of pain, and he has since been bedridden. He spent five months in the hospital before we could bring him home. Before this Kevin would pass the sacrament in his wheelchair and ward members would comment on how blessed they felt to have received it from him.
Now, since we’ve been home, Kevin is completely bedridden and rarely leaves the house. Our family is all together again, but my husband and I take turns going to church with our other children, while the other stays home to care for Kevin. There have been a few weeks we have been able to go to church as a family and when we do go, we take Kevin on a stretcher. He can only make it for about an hour before we must take him home. The times we can go together as a family has been treasured. If there is one thing I truly miss, it is being able to go to church together to all our meetings. My heart aches when I think of the counsel to attend all our meetings, and we can’t, I often thank my Heavenly Father for these feelings because it’s then that I know I’m on the right path. If I didn’t long to be there, I would know there is a problem.
As a family, we feel the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy, doing things as a family, and setting an example for our children. We have the blessing of having the sacrament brought to our home every Sunday so that those who weren’t able to partake at church can receive these treasured blessings. We are grateful for the young men who give us this opportunity each week. We have the privilege of having church in our home, feeling the spirit and our Saviours love.
I asked Kevin, who turned 18 last April and was ordained an Elder in June if he could say anything to all the youth in the world, what it would be; he said, “If you have a desire, you can do it!” I believe this applies to the Sabbath day as well.
Our family has the desire to keep the Sabbath holy and to be at our meetings, to choose the right and to obey our Prophet’s council. It may not be the ideal circumstances or accomplished all at once but I believe that the Lord is providing a way for us to keep His commandments and do things that we need to do. Just as it’s stated in one of our family’s favourite scriptures, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”(1 Nephi 3:7)
We often don’t see the blessings until after the trial, but I know that the Lord has blessed our family in many ways because we try to give our Sabbath to the Lord. Being at home probably 90% of the time, sometimes the days all mix together. It would be easy to not separate Sunday from the rest of the week, but because of the service of others and our desire to make it different, the Lord provides a way. We can see the Lord’s hand at work in our lives, and it gives us strength for the next week ahead. Sabbath day observance in spite of adversity is the sign we want to give to the Lord.”
President Nelson also said, “I believe He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal. God gave us this special day not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty, with physical and spiritual relief.”
Links: Ex. 20:8; Deut. 5:12; Mosiah 13:16; 1 Nephi 3:7