Monday, August 25, 2008

Practicing Sabbath Rest

The concept of Sabbath rest has been on my mind a lot lately ever since reading The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. Additionally, we've been studying about pursuing God over the past eight weeks at church and have been learning about different spiritual disciplines, including rest. The following is a short article that I wrote on this topic and that was included on p. 10 of our church's fall news magazine:

If asked to describe myself, “list maker” and “rule follower” would appear in my answer. Both of these traits, which have often come in handy, have caused me trouble when it comes to pursuing rest in God.

My list maker tendencies urge me to be in full-time productive mode and to gauge my weekend as “good” only if all tasks on my list are completed. And when my list maker tendency combines with my rule follower nature, they whisper that I should make a list of the spiritual disciplines and do one each day so that I can “be right with God.” If left to my own devices, most weekends would rate a dismal “okay” on my rating scale.

Several weeks before Ted preached on “Pursing Rest in God,” I finished reading a book entitled The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. The introduction grabbed my attention:

In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Some knowing is never pursued, only received. And for that, you need to be still. (p.3)

I knew I had been using the wrong measuring stick. But I didn’t realize what I had been missing. That in the midst of my self-described productivity, I was missing out on God.

On seeing the things that He wanted to show me. On hearing the words and the wisdom that He wanted to impart to me. On feeling the love that He wanted to wrap around me. On connecting with Him through His creation. On knowing Him more intimately.

The realization of all that I’d lost was devastating. Devastating enough to cause me to set aside one day a week for Sabbath rest so that I could attempt to recover what I’d lost and had been missing for a long time.

Just like Buchanan, I also “learned to keep Sabbath in the crucible of breaking it.” I have discovered what a gift it is to let go of my lists and rules for one day each week and to rest in God. And because I’ve let go of the rules, what this looks like for me varies from Sabbath to Sabbath. I try to let God lead. Sometimes Sabbath rest involves connecting with friends over lunch. Sometimes Sabbath rest includes journaling or writing. Sometimes Sabbath rest means physical rest in the form of a nap. And when it’s not 107 degrees outside, Sabbath rest may include taking a walk to enjoy His creation.

I haven’t been practicing this discipline very long, but I’ve already noticed that I haven’t needed to check off everything on my list in order to have a great weekend. So maybe someday I’ll be able to do away with “list maker” and “rule follower” and be able to describe myself as “Sabbath keeper.”

I'd love to know your thoughts on this concept. Do you try to incorporate a "stop day" into your week? If so, how has it changed your perspective?


Momma Bean said...

This topic is so important. I read the book Making Room for Life last year and loved it. This is an area where we struggle as a family. It is a constant battle to keep life from getting too hectic. That is a BIG part of why we relocated back to smaller town USA. We'll see how it works. I do thing it is more a state of mind than a location and that is hard for us list maker/rule followers!

TJ Wilson said...

loved this article, btw. great job.

Krista said...

This is great stuff. We try around here. It gets tricky when "on staff" on the Sabbath. Do-able but tricky. I want to read this book. We kick ours off on Saturday night with the kids. Thanks for sharing this- we share lots of the same tendencies.

Jeanette said...

I know I'm a late commenter, but I just have to say how much I appreciate your writing on this topic. It is so very hard for me to think in terms of any kind of rest, and this is not usually by my choice at all. I think I need to read some of the books mentioned and get a new perspective! (And I also want to add how very much I enjoy your writing!)