Last week I spent a couple of blog entries talking about the value of intentionally, diligently establishing healthy thought patterns. At the conclusion of this entry you can hit the links to read those pieces.
“Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”
This is a Divine commandment. Sabbath keeping is an aspect of the culture of God’s Kingdom. During twenty years of ministry and countless leadership talks, the value of a day off and vacation has been drilled into my mind. I have faithfully maintained those disciplines the whole of my ministry and married life.
Yet, Jesus came initiating and perpetuating a new covenant, a more pure, creational intended way of being human. In doing so, as the writer of Hebrews repeatedly communicated, Jesus instituted a superior covenant to that of the Old Testament. This is not to diminish the Ten Commandments, but Jesus came to wholly fulfill what was inscribed on stone tablets. He came to make it living and breathing. He came to transition humanity from mere behavior modification into God’s intended wholeness. He has summoned us out of acting right, into being right.
This is true as Jesus invites us to a life where we not only refrain from murder, but also from hate. He beckons us into not only refraining from the act of adultery, but liberty from the pull of lust. He would not offer these possibilities if He had not equipped us by His Holy Spirit to live in them fully.
This is equally true of “Sabbath”. In this new, Jesus led era, sabbath keeping transitions from the simple act of taking a day off, into a state of perpetual rest. Certainly a “day off” and a vacation can assist in this endeavor, but true sabbath is found in the teeming life of Holy Spirit.
Early in 2019 I observed that I felt hurried. I mentioned it to Michelle, I talked with the Lord about it, and I tried to be more attentive to my schedule. The eerie sense remained as we entered the summer, and had not abated as the foliage changed hue in the fall. I could not shake the sense of being rushed. It even had an affect on my Christmas vibes (those who know me know I LOVE Christmas).
As the year concluded and a new decade dawned, I finally sorted through this rushed feeling and came to the realization that my schedule was not much different than any other year in my current job. My schedule was fine. I took the requisite days off and had plenty of vacation. It’s difficult to put into words, but my pace was fine…my soul was moving too fast.
The truth is, a week’s vacation is not going to cure a hurried soul. Time off work will not calm a turbulent or rushed heart. Only a recalibration of thinking, a redirection of focus, and an intentional effort to govern the soul well can cause peace to permeate the inner man.
I still take a day off each week. I have vacations on the calendar. However, I cannot be dependent on a “sabbath day” to heal my heart and reset my emotional pace. No, I have been invited into a “sabbath way”.
For me personally, on a practical level, I have discovered that “resting” is not as nurturing to my soul as making a memory or knocking out a simple task. My soul functions better if what I am doing has a measure of meaning to it. Thus, my days off this year have been less sitting and more doing.
Before I conclude, don’t mistake this as some cavalier ode to work ethic or a rebuttal of laziness. Physical rest is absolutely pivotal to soul health. When we are tired, sleepy, mentally and emotionally drained, we become susceptible to temptation, diminished in how we relate with others, and if prolonged in duration, unhealthy at the core of our being. When you are tired, rest. It’s that simple, but you might also want to try going to bed early, as well as creating patterns and rhythms in your every day life to offset fatigue. I have heard it said that your tomorrow begins the minute you lie down to sleep at night. Bed time is not the end of one day, it is the beginning of the next day. You would also be wise to be attentive to what causes your soul to be replenished. There are certain aspects of my work that nourish my soul and flood it with vibrancy and health. Know what drains you and what replenishes you.
You were made to rest.
You were created to delight in a Sabbath way, not merely a Sabbath day.
Be intentional. Be diligent. Rest is worth the effort.
Hit the links below to read last week’s entries: