Rest is not something I always do well. I try. Some seasons are more balanced than others. I want to rest well. Sleep well. Eat well. I want to hear God, but sometimes I get so busy that I drown out his voice.
On my shelf, I had Mark Buchanan’s book The Rest of God for several years. I started it probably 4 times but never finished it. Last week, I picked it up determined to finish it.
I have just come through a busy season. We had another church merge with us, which meant my responsibilities expanded and involved me taking my family day (most weeks) and being at the other church to build relationships and preach. We had an elder resign, which took a toll on me emotionally and mentally. I have also been making 2-3 tripes to Phoenix each month building relationships with Acts 29 pastors and learning how to better train leaders at Revolution through the Surge Network (more on this later). To add to that, since January, we’ve almost doubled as a church and we added another worship gathering which over time takes a toll physically from having to preach twice.
This past month I realized I was just wiped. So, I grabbed Buchanan’s book off the shelf.
What I most appreciated about this book was how he described Sabbath. Sabbath is not just a day, it is a state of your heart, it is the pace you live. He says, “Sabbath is both a day and an attitude to nurture such stillness. It is both time on a calendar and a disposition of the heart. It is a day we enter, but just as much a way we see. Sabbath imparts the rest of God – actual physical, mental, spiritual rest, but also the rest of God – the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness.”
The reality though is that busyness robs of us things. It robs our health, relationships, relationship with God, etc. We convince ourselves that the busier we are, the more we will accomplish, but have you ever noticed the ones who accomplish the most over the long haul tend to be the most balanced. They are healthy, sleep well, eat well and have community around them.
By breaking sabbath, we actually lessen the greatness of play, vacation, eating, etc. What I never realized until reading this book was the scope of the heart of sabbath.
Sabbath in Scripture begins at night, with sleep. Which is an appropriate picture of the heart of Sabbath. Sleep is “a necessity. It is a relinquishment. It is self-abandonment: of control, of power, of consciousness, of identity. We direct nothing in our sleep. We master nothing. In sleep, we become infants again: utterly vulnerable, completely defenseless, totally dependent. Out of control.” If you read that definition again, you will see why most of us break sabbath. We like power, control. We don’t like to be vulnerable or dependent on anyone, let alone God.
Sabbath shows us our helplessness. It reminds us of our humanness.
One thing I took away was learning to live in the present, especially with my kids. It is easy to convince yourself that your kids can wait or to be with them while thinking of something else. This past week, Katie was at day camp with the other kids and Gavin stayed home sick. Everyone left and I turned on Toy Story 3 for Gavin and was going to go get ready for the day. He asked me to watch the movie with him. I decided to lay on the couch, watch the movie and get ready later. My sermon and work still got done this week.
Buchanan sums out how we should think on Sabbath and live it out: Cease from what is necessary. Embrace what gives life.
Once a week. In your heart, everyday.
If you are fast moving, control freak. Don’t rest well. Like me. This is a book you should definitely grab.