Footsteps in Faith: Service members should apply the Sabbath principle

| February 9, 2017 | 0 Comments


Chaplain (Capt.-P) Stephan H. Buchanan
500th Military Intelligence Brigade

Deployed life is far different than home life. In addition to being separated from your family for 6, 9 or even 12 months, service members work an enormous number of hours per day, six or seven day per week.

For some, this work requires going on dangerous missions and doing things you never thought you would have to do to simply survive or save a buddy. For others, it may require staying on the base where the danger is also very real.

Home front challenges

Families on the home front encounter many challenges of their own. Parents are now single parents. Families are forced to fall into a new routine that includes the responsibilities once done by their loved one who is no longer at home. The kids miss mommy or daddy. And, for those who are married, the bedroom can turn into a lonely place.

The most important but often most under-utilized time in this uniquely military experience is the mid-tour leave in which the family at home and the Soldier abroad have the opportunity to re-unite for a short period of time.

As a family, it is vitally important to apply the “Sabbath principle” to your leave by intentionally planning this time of reunion. Doing so will instill renewed life and health to the family as whole while honoring the Lord.


There are a number of examples in the Bible of God’s people applying the Sabbath principle by seeking rest and separating themselves from their daily routines and from other people.

One such example can be found in Luke 5:12-16. In this passage, Jesus encountered a man with a severe case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed and begged Jesus to heal him. Jesus reached out and touched the man, and then instantly he was healed. Then Jesus instructed him not to tell anyone. Despite these instructions, the man, with great excitement, told people of Jesus and his healing power.

The word spread quickly and people came to hear Jesus preach and be healed from their diseases. Before Jesus continued his ministry, he applied the Sabbath principle by taking his own personal time of rest. Verse 16 says, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Even Jesus, was intentional about finding a time and place to rest and commune with God the father.

To practice the Sabbath principle while deployed is to set aside a time to spend with your family and commune with God. The great thing is, while deployed, the military sets the time aside for you in the form of mid-tour leave. It is up to the service member and his/her family to find a place that will be physically, emotionally and spiritually rejuvenating.

When planning your leave, it is extremely important for the service member to communicate with the family at home. This discussion needs to include things like brainstorming and realistic expectations. Do you want to rest, travel or perhaps both? What kind of mid-tour leave experience can best accomplish the type of rest that will best benefit your family: a cruise, an all-inclusive resort or a guided tour to an exotic place like the Holy Land?

The Sabbath Principle is an invitation to experience God’s rest as an individual and/or as a family by celebrating and rejoicing in his creation. When you apply the Sabbath principle by taking the time to communicate with your family and plan out your mid-tour leave, you honor the Lord and express deep commitment to the ones you love the most.

The memories created here will last for the rest of your life. It will be great, everyone can worship the Lord, everyone gets rest and everyone


Category: Standing Columns

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