For the past eight years, I have worked at a hospital. Since hospitals are constantly open, keeping the Sabbath day holy has been a challenge. And because many firefighters, police officers, military personnel, and others face this challenge, I want to share what helps me obey the Lord’s fourth commandment (see Exodus 20:8–11) and keep this sacred day holy.
Those of us who have to work on Sundays may not be able to contribute to our wards in the same way as other members, but we certainly can contribute. Here are seven things I have done to magnify my worship and make the most of my situation.
Focus thoughts on Heavenly Father and the Savior. Not working on Sundays is just one dimension of the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy; we also need to remember the other dimensions. To stay focused on spiritual things, I listen to wholesome music or Church talks on tape or CD as I travel to and from work. I also study the scriptures or write in my journal during breaks at work.
Keep in contact with ward leaders. Communicate your work situation and schedule to your bishopric, Relief Society or priesthood leaders, and home and visiting teachers. If they don’t already know you, this lets them know who you are, and it also shows your intentions and desires to be a contributing ward member.
Read the Sunday School and priesthood or Relief Society lessons for the week. Implementing a home study program has helped me keep up with classes so that when I can go to church, I don’t feel lost or behind and I can contribute more to discussions.
Accept callings. Not all callings need to be done on Sunday. For example, members who cannot attend Sunday meetings can contribute to ward activities, service projects, newsletters, temple work, and more. I recognize the need to be flexible, but I also am determined to magnify whatever calling the Lord gives me.
Participate in other worship and social activities. Temple worship and home and visiting teaching can serve as supplemental spiritual boosts. I attend as many activities as possible to benefit from fellowship with the Saints.
Take the sacrament whenever possible. At the hospital where I work, there is an organized branch, which I attend when my schedule allows. I try to move my schedule around so I can attend sacrament meeting, whether at the hospital or in my home ward, as often as possible.
Pray frequently. Church meetings are designed to draw us closer to the Lord. Praying often throughout the day and the week also invites the Spirit and allows us to become closer to Him.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17).
I believe that the key is in doing “all things that lie in our power.” If we are doing all we can, the Lord will help us draw near unto Him.