As Busy As I am, I Live for Sunday

Area Leadership Message

Elder Matthieu Bennasar, France
Elder Matthieu Bennasar, France Area Seventy

After high school, I started two very competitive years to prepare for entrance to French Grandes Ecoles. At the end of these two intense years, students take competitive entrance exams in the hope of being accepted at the most prestigious schools.  As every student in my class, I was working very hard.  Students literally work all day and late every night. I rapidly realized that not working on Sundays would amount to a serious numeric disadvantage two years later:  I would then miss the equivalent of fourteen full weeks of study compared to my fellow students.  As my father saw me fighting the internal struggle between reason and faith, he spoke to me in a Jethro-like manner:   “Matthieu, what you are contemplating is wrong.  You should not work on Sundays.”  My heart initially rebelled against this counsel.  My father did not know what it was like after all.  But once the storm calmed, I chose to heed his advice.  I have never regretted it.  “Not doing [mine] own ways”[1] on the Sabbath proved invaluable.  Not only did I come refreshed on Monday mornings when all my classmates seemed exhausted from a week-end of continual study.  But these years became pivotal in my spiritual progression.  All I experienced by diving headlong in the scriptures on Sundays tremendously deepened my spiritual roots for the years to come.

At the conclusion of these two intense years, I took the exams I had planned and, although far from being among the brightest students, I scored enough to get accepted in one of the schools I dreamed about but never thought I could get in, one of the very best.  This added to my testimony that “all things work together for good to them that love God”[2].  I learned through that experience the Sabbath was a much needed source of soul refreshment that my classmates did not have access to.  Like the Israelites feeding on manna in the wilderness and not gathering manna on the Sabbath, I learned that trusting God by not working on Sundays gave me an edge, not a disadvantage.  For with the commandment, He prepares a way.

Isaiah knew well that, far from burdensome, the Sabbath could be a delight:  “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable;  and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:  Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord;  and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father:  for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”[3]

The Sabbath provides an unparalleled respite from the cares of our tumultuous world and a rest from our media bombarded lives.  It is a time to slow down and enter a world of contemplation.  The Sabbath is a sacred time just as much as the temple is a sacred place. It is a day to center on family, rejoice, bond and worship together.  It is a day for spiritual development, a day to testify, a day to strengthen the feeble knees. Until we continuously live in a celestial realm, the Sabbath may be our best weekly preparation for living like celestial beings[4].  Ultimately, the Sabbath revolves around the wondrous partaking of the Sacrament, whereby our spirits commune with the Lord, our covenants are renewed and healing for our souls is granted.  In the Sabbath, we find the Lord.

I thank the Lord for the Sabbath.  Truly, it is a delight.

[1] Isaiah 58:13

[2] Romans 8:28

[3] Isaiah 58:13-14