I picked up this book because I had enjoyed some of the author’s blog writings. Little did I know that I would connect with her immediately because we are both experiencing a similar time in life. We are both the wife of a pastor who has recently resigned from his position and is still in the “waiting on God” moments in life.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
Have you ever felt like you have been run down by a speeding train?
Did you know? “There’s an app for that! 🙂 When I was a kid, we were taught that when you come to a railroad track, STOP, LOOK, & LISTEN. Trains can only go where there are tracks, so pay attention. Don’t proceed until you come to a complete stop, then look and see if anything is coming, then listen for anything that might be coming down the tracks.
I wonder …
The scriptures are full of examples and admonitions for us to slow and spend time with the Lord. Right from the beginning, God came in the cool of the day to speak with Adam (Genesis 3:8). Even before that God Himself rested after 6 days of work (Hebrews 4:4). Even Jesus would often withdraw from the crowds to pray. (Matthew 14:13-21)
And yet, we act as if we don’t really need to slow down.
We jump out of bed in the morning, throw on some clothes, down a cup of coffee, and run out the door. Never once thinking of even a quick hello to the Lord or an invitation to Him to walk beside us throughout the day. It’s no wonder, we feel worn and weary.
How Do We Slow Ourselves to Rest?
And what about our Sundays?
When I was growing up, we did only what had to be done on Sundays. Even when the hay was ready to bale, it stayed on the ground for a day. Sundays were for attending church and resting. The most we ever did was maybe a “Sunday afternoon drive” or visiting family.
I recall asking Dad once,
“Why couldn’t the Lord allow the cows to give twice the milk on Saturday so that we wouldn’t have to milk them on Sunday as God did with providing manna to the Israelites?”
His answer pricked my heart.
“God might be willing to do that if we were willing to REALLY give Him the Sabbath.”
You see, what I wanted was to be able to go and play and have fun, not to actually take the day to slow down and worship God. It seems that when we “slow down” we are still filling our lives with stimulants that do not allow us the opportunity to rest and to fellowship with God.
There is little to no room for God.
We come home from work or play and immediately, we turn on our radios, TV, and internet.
No quiet for him to even get a word in edgewise.
Take a look from a practical point of view. Phyllis Korkki, at the New York Times, says
I know for myself when I was working, I would get where I seemed to not be making progress in my work. The best thing I could do was to go take a walk around the block. Breaks are helpful, so long as we aren’t using them to procrastinate.
What about meditation?
Studies show that regular meditation is a very beneficial activity. Anastasia Stephens lists seven benefits of meditation :
Relieves Irritable bowel syndrome
Lowers blood pressure
Now, who couldn’t use a few of those benefits!
God told Joshua,
“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
So, if we want to prosper, we MUST spend time meditating on the Word of God.
WHAT if THERE WERE NO RESTS IN MUSIC?
What kind of song would we get if only notes were played without regard to rests?
I was a percussionist in the high school band. While the bells were my favorite, I also played the timpani. But many times there were long measures of rests between notes. This was no fun. Just counting beats.
But these rests left time for tuning the instrument to the right note.
And THEN, at the right moment, what an awesome timpani sound rolled out.
We need these times of rest in our lives as well to tune ourselves to the drumbeat of God.
John Ruskins said,
“If we sorrowfully say to ourselves, ‘There is no music in a rest,’ let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson!”3
God can only speak to us in the quiet.
If we never slow down and listen, there is no chance for God to minister to us.
Oh, how He loves us and wants us to come and fellowship with Him. He wants to tell us so much.
As we move into the 9th month of COVID-19, I realize that I haven’t physically been in church for over 7 months. I never would have thought I would find this to be true for me. Sunday Worship (Sabbath) has always been highly important to me. Now I am finding out why.
Worship services have always been the highlight of my week. Beautiful music drawing me up close to the breast of God. And teaching and preaching that enlightens my mind and heart. Friends and family. Hugs and kisses.
Family Reunions are the Best
My mind goes back to my childhood days and our yearly family reunions. What a joy! Aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents everywhere on Aunt Julia’s farm. Tons of hugs and kisses.
And food! Long tables of the best homemade food you have ever seen including a huge pot of Aunt Mildred’s dumplings. Towards the end of the day ice cream cones. Oh my goodness! What a day!
Church Homecomings are a Close Second
Mostly a tradition in the south, church homecomings in the churches Mike and I served had a homecoming every fall. Again, EVERYONE came out for a day of remembrance and celebration.
We started with a time of fellowship as people arrived. Maybe some breakfast food! Then the preaching! We usually invited a pastor emeritus to come and preach and reminisce. We would also bring in a gospel quartet to sing through the afternoon. Of course, this was after we ate way too much good southern cooking. My Goodness!
Sabbath is like a Taste of Heaven
These reunions are just a smidgen of what heaven will be like. Think of the joy and celebration there will be! Friends and family old and new… and then all the patriarchs that we have been looking up to all our lives. We will finally have made it HOME.
I have heard that a poll was taken that found that people had a really off-skewed vision of what heaven is or what it will be like. If you want to know the truth you can read Revelation 21 for a description. It will be anything but boring. It won’t be a long boring church service. Actually, the truth is that our Sunday Services ought to be a picture of heaven that increases our desire to find our way to heaven.
I recently was given Jon Tyson’s book, Beautiful Resistance, to read and review. It is another of those books where I found myself highlighting every page. While Jon covers a myriad of other disciplines in our lives, his chapter on the Sabbath made me realize that every Sunday should be like a taste of heaven. Just a little practice for what is to come. Never a drudgery but something we always look forward to. Here’s his taste of what heaven will be and what the Sabbath should be:
We are called to feast on beauty. To fill our hearts with painting and photography and poetry and literature and nature. We are called to feast on friendship. To enjoy the company of friends and family and drink deeply from the well of belonging. We are called to feast on God, to again “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8)
The Sabbath is filled with sensory delight and wonder that remind us, if even for a moment, that Jesus is making all things new. (Revelation 21:5)
Pastor’s Wife (retired) & Chronic Pain Warrior blogs about how to make it through anything by relating her own life experiences to her writing. She is passionate about her love for the Lord and desires to spread that passion to others. She has a great desire to encourage women who are following behind her.
A book everyone should read … probably more than once to be reminded of the importance of rest.
Buchanan took a sabbatical to research the subject of the rest of God. And found so much that pricked his own heart about taking too little rest. He noticed that “the harder he worked, the less he accomplished.” and he realized that “the Sabbath was a form of mending”. There is some renewal that only comes from resting in the Lord and being still.
“…not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Our world is seemingly
becoming less concerned with God and more concerned with self. Society
preaches being happy at all costs; putting our happiness above all else. When a
weekly commitment that Christians are encouraged in the Bible to keep becomes a
challenge to us because we do not feel like it, then it may be the time to
remind ourselves that church is not really about us…it’s about God. Allow me to
Of course, we receive amazing benefits from going to meeting Together (attending church),
Yet, in that church family, we will likely encounter people who irritate us from time to time. There comes a time to decide that pleasing God is more important than trying to avoid being offended by someone’s conduct, lifestyle, or personality. (Remember, there are others who put up with us on those occasions when we might be the ones irritating them!)
My Sunday School teacher, whom I happen to be married to, has said, “If you feel that church is missing something, maybe you are supposed to bring it.” In other words, instead of lamenting the lack of energy, excitement, or enthusiasm, perhaps we are being called to prayerfully initiate it. Instead of considering leaving a church because it doesn’t fulfill our needs, perhaps God is prodding us to stay and be a prayerful part of the solution. Instead of wishing people would change, perhaps God is teaching us to prayerfully change our attitude toward them.
If our church is a
Gospel-preaching, community-reaching, Bible-believing, Holy Spirit-receiving
church, but there are some other aspects that we see as negative, just think
what our positive, prayerful approach could possibly accomplish!
Lord, help me become excited about the wonderful opportunity of regularly attending church and being part of a church family. Help me to see and be thankful for the blessings I receive when I go to church, but to be even more concerned about the blessing I can be to others in my church family, as I put the focus on You and Your love. In Your name, I pray, Amen.
See you in Church!
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