“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3 NIV
A month ago, my preacher taught on the importance of observing the Sabbath. I paid attention and took notes like I usually do. I even jotted down a reference to a story he told about a bird named chippy. To save my life I can not remember what that story was. The sermon didn’t really resonate with me, but I’m so glad I recorded the scripture references to go back to because it resonates in a major way with me now. I spend time with God every day. I get good sleep at night (as good as my new hot flashes allow). I only work part-time (2 part times jobs, but who’s counting). I didn’t really think I needed a lesson in rest – until I got some rest.
We just got back from Broken Bow, Oklahoma. My parents rented a big cabin for them, my grandad, my family and the families of my two sisters for 3 nights. For two full days, we had no agenda. We woke up when we wanted to, ate when we felt hungry, played games, put together puzzles, made s’mores and enjoyed each other’s company. Every chilly morning I wrapped up in a blanket and sat outside by the fire on the edge of the Ouachita National Forest for time alone with God. I could pinch myself just thinking about it.
Historically, when I have considered what it means to enter Sabbath rest, I have focused on not working. No wonder it didn’t resonate with me. Big whoop. When I finally sit down at the end of the day to watch a little TV I’m not working, but that’s not true rest in the Lord. Genesis 2:2-3 NIV says, “By the seventh day God has finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then the Lord blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” God set the example for us of a healthy work/ rest balance, but
On vacations, I typically take some of my to-do list with me. I write, read things I think I “need” to, tie up loose ends online, try to memorize things for the classes I teach. But because the purpose of this trip was to spend time with family (which is so life-giving to me), I made the decision to leave it all behind. And it made all the difference. I LOVE to read and write, but I needed a break from even these creative endeavors. I took advantage of a change of scenery for my daily “quiet time” and God’s creation rejuvenated me. I cooked (okay I do that all the time), but was surrounded and helped by my sisters and mom. Such a blessing. I hiked in Beaver’s Bend State Park. The trek was hard work, but the landscape invited me to commune deeper with God and my wonderful companions (quite different from my usual hour on the treadmill).
In writing this, I wanted to make Sabbath a verb, but when I looked up sabbathing, I found no such thing, but took a look at “shabbating” – observing the Jewish Sabbath. Although there are lots of rules surrounding a traditional Sabbath, it is also considered a festive day to exercise freedom from the regular labors of everyday life. It is a time for engaging in “pleasurable activities such as eating, singing, spending time with family” and even marital relations. Sounds like my time in Broken Bow – except that last part. We were in one house with all of my family! We need Sabbath as a verb because “resting” doesn’t do the practice justice!
Thinking back on the vacation, I want to go back. But instead of pining away for the pine trees, I think the best thing to do is look for ways here in my day to day to find that rest and refreshment in the Lord. It doesn’t have to be an entire week or even a whole day. Seeking out time for fellowship with others and setting aside my to-do list for periods of time is a good place for me to start. What brings you rest and refreshment? Comment below so we can encourage each other.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:10 NIV
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