Imagine you are at a concert of your favorite artist. The music surrounds you, it builds and ebbs and fills you. You transcend time and space, caught up in the bubble of melody and percussion while the rhythm and mood transport you elsewhere. It doesn’t matter what style of music or what type of song, music masterfully touches a visceral part of us. Whether it’s light and fun or thick and dramatic, when we give ourselves over to music it can be powerful.
The construction of music is beyond my comprehension, but this morning when I was thinking about my topic of rest, music came to mind. So, I looked up the definition of a musical rest: A rest is an interval of silence in a piece of music, marked by a symbol indicating the length of the pause.
The length and amount of silence in music is what fascinated me. If music didn’t have rests, think how exhausting it would be! This brought to mind my own life rhythm. I am guilty of having two speeds; off and fast which tends to look like the strength-sapping velocity of the children’s song, The Song That Doesn’t End, rather than the storied tempo of a worship song.
I struggled to find a rhythm to my new life and schedule when I moved to Tennessee. Working in ministry created a 24/7 type of schedule even though I was part-time. Combined with my coaching business and family, it was difficult to carve out periods of rest. Rest is the ability to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. After months of not experiencing this, I realized I needed to do something to get a better handle on the pace of my life.
Through prayer I was led to learn more about the Sabbath. You will find the Sabbath mentioned in the Ten Commandments. Sandwiched between all the “Shall nots” are two commands that begin with Honor and Remember. One has to do with our parents and the other refers to rest.
I never enacted a Sabbath day before; truth be told, I’ve had lazy days (remember my “off” speed), but I never had a day that I kept holy through rest. I thought that this might be a good start, so one Friday I prepped my meals and handled errands in preparation of a Saturday Sabbath. Saturday came and… I sat. Don’t get me wrong, I can sit with the best of them, but something felt awkward. I felt I was supposed to do something specific on top of all the stuff I wasn’t supposed to do. I know that sounds a bit wacky, but here’s how it played out; I caught myself wanting to make cookies and thought “Oh no! I can’t do that!” There were other “Oh no’s and can’t do’s!” throughout the day which just ended up exhausting me. I felt like I was wearing a strait jacket! It felt like a legalistic punishment rather than a holy experience.
Shortly after that exercise I found this Scripture in Mark 2:27, Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
This was liberating! It removed the weight of the law and freed me up to see that remembering the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, meant that as a daughter of the King I had the freedom to delight in and to remember Him in ways that brought rest and renewal.
That blunder of a Sabbath day revealed that REST did not just mean KEEPING STILL. True, stillness can be a powerful aspect to rest and spiritual renewal, but keeping stillout of the fear of not doing it right, or a non-sacred obligation, isn’t what God wants at all. So, I focused on things that would delight me and honor God. Cooking cookies delighted me (well, really eating them did), so I did that with the Lord and remembered Him. Other things like hiking and creative outlets fill me up and when I’m filled up with the Lord, it’s just plain good all around.
It is still a real challenge for me to keep the Sabbath. Even though I have experienced the benefits of it, life can get busy. Sadly, busyness is a badge of honor that I wear proudly. The embarrassing truth is that sometimes I love what I get out of busyness more than I love what I get out of the Sabbath – hit pause here though, because this busyness stuff is content for another blog!
Even though I knew about the Sabbath, I never really internalized the magnitude of it. Then, all of a sudden, it was as if someone suddenly translated what Charlie Brown’s mother was saying, and the wha, wah, waa became the startlingly truth that the Sabbath is a command. (For anyone sensitive to the word command, think of it as operating instructions from the manufacturer. The Manufacturer and Creator who knows what’s best for you.)
I had been treating the Sabbath as if it was God’s recommendation or suggestion. Like an elective that I could choose to do or not do. But it’s not an elective, and this quote from Dallas Willard gave me a hint why it isn’t: “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” My spiritual life is important to me and so I need to engage in the struggle for its health. When I give hurry a place in my heart, there is less room for the sacred. The Sabbath shifts hectic to holy.
After much pondering, it all boils down to this for me; rest is a command and Jesus says, three different times in John chapter 14, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Can you hear the deflated echo of my spiritual heart? I do love Jesus, so this has become a battle worth fighting for. It takes effort and planning to rest. It takes putting aside lies that say I am less worthy when I rest. It takes wisdom to act on my love for Christ and rest. Lastly, it helps to know that God was the first one to take a break!
When we make this commandment an expression of our love to God, we create beautiful music with our lives: EXODUS 20:8-11 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Everything has a rhythm and season. Dormancy is part of the rhythm because it’s a time of regeneration. It is undercover work that shows up in ways our friends and family can appreciate and participate in. Rest models how the Omnipotent operates and allows us to teach our children how to be still and peaceful, rather than anxious when idle. In holy rest we experience joy because we are with Him (Psalm 16:11).
No matter how much time you elect to have for your Sabbath, you accrue a spiritual currency that will bring wealth to your soul.
Not only will this time help you grow your relationship with Jesus, but it will better equip you to fight off life’s distractions and disappointments, because you have established a habit of entering His rest, and can do so at any time.
Instead of a frantic children’s song that never ends, your life can be a splendid musical score with high swells and deep dives, marked by stunning rests where you abide with God and compose a life song that will nurture your soul and glorify Him. This can happen through Sabbath rest, not because you’re ‘supposed to’ but because you love Jesus that much!
There is a difference between rest and Sabbath rest. Both are important.
1) Our bodies and minds need to physically rest, and sleep is one of the best ways to regenerate. Sleep deprivation is the epidemic of our day, causing detrimental health issues. On a scale of 1 to 10, (10 being excellent) how well are you resting your body and mind?
2) How does rest, or lack of rest, impact your spiritual life?
3) Ponder the cost of not resting.
1) What was your initial reaction about rest being a ‘command’ from God?
2) When you think of ‘holy rest’ what comes to mind?
3) Do you carry any misconceptions about rest and your worth?
Who in your life is a good example of rest and Sabbath rest?
What benefits do you see in the lives of others who rest well, and rest well in God?
Who could help you to rest better?
Document your time for a couple weeks. After doing so you will see what is really important to you, because we generally do what’s important to us! Your values drive the decisions you make with your time. What do the facts say about what you value or what’s important to you? How do self-care (rest) and spiritual care (Sabbath rest) factor in?
Coaching helps you make changes in your life, in order to live the way you want to. If you are looking to get a handle on the rhythm of your life, contact me and together we can craft a strategy to get you where you and God want you to be.
Exodus 20: Ten Commandments
And God spoke all these words:
1) “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.
2) 4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3) 7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
4) 8 “Rememberthe Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
5) 12 “Honoryour father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
6) 13 “You shall not murder.
7) 14 “You shall not commit adultery.
8) 15 “You shall not steal.
9) 16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10) 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpetand saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
LAWS OF GOD: REST
10 “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.
13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you.
As a certified Christian Life Coach I can help you move from where you are to where God wants you to be. If you are interested in finding out what your values are then let’s chat. I’d love to be your champion in what God is calling you to do!
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