Thursday, September 16, 2010

“Give it a Rest”

There is a Place…

There is a place where you can always go, come with me,

Where it’s alright to let your feelings show, come with me.

What a pleasant journey, isn’t very far,

We can go together, stay right where you are

And now it’s time to start, it’s right here in your heart.

There is a place where you can be yourself, come with me,

And it’s a place where you can free yourself, come with me.

And you know it’s waiting, no so far away

Need no reservation, we can go today,

Now it’s time to start, it’s right here in your heart.

And the light shines through each window, and the door is open wide

And each question has an answer, if you’ll only look inside.

There is a place where every sorrow ends, come with me,

Where every hope and every truth begins, come with me

What a pleasant journey, isn’t very far,

We can go together, start right where you are,

Now it’s time to start, it’s right here in your heart.

….And now it’s time to start, it’s right here in your heart.

“I have a problem…” I say sipping my coffee.

“What?” he asks sitting his cup down, giving me his full attention.

“I’m multi-tasking, stretching my limited time, and directing my energy into solving everyone else’s problems.”

“Oooo,” he says raising his eyebrows.

“I’m weary of teaching women how to set priorities, solve problems, manage time, how to mend and maintain relationships. I’m teaching others when I need to be managing these same issues myself.”

“I see,” he says.

“I need a rest, a break. You know, like…give me a break, give it a rest, and in fact, I think I’ll run away.”

“I know a place,” he says, “a place where we can both go, where we are free to rest.”

“Where?” I ask.

“Well, Jesus rested when he was weary. He found it necessary, so it’s not strange that you should feel the same way. He ran away too—all by himself.”

“I know, but that was different,” I say with a sigh.

“Not really,” he says, “in Exodus, God commanded His people to rest, the Sabbath—you know. And Jesus said in Mark 2:22, that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Not only that, He let people know that the thought of Sabbath was “rest” not rules.”

“Well, that’s obvious,” I say to my Shepherd husband, “since he broke so many Sabbath rules himself.” I feel a sermon coming on and I want a rest from that too.

He smiles, knowing what I am thinking. “In the Hebrew letter,” he continues, “the word Sabbath is from the Greek, shabbat, which means to cease, or to stop, to rest, if you will.”

“But I can’t stop to rest,” I protest“, my life is so full, I can’t take on anything else. In fact, I don’t think I can take anymore preaching either and I feel like that’s what you’re doing right now.” Guilt tugs at my heart and I see compassion in his green eyes.

“Time to empty out,” he says, “time to rest.”

After this conversation, I began to think about what my husband had said about emptying out, about resting. I wanted to find a resting place. After all, Jesus said He was our rest, our Sabbath.

I understand that life is more than work, money, and homes, all our earthly endeavors, all our lofty ambitions, our plans and strategies for the future. I know this in my head. By seeking the principle of rest in my life, I have learned some valuable lessons. I have learned to experience rest in my heart and spirit.

To truly rest from the labors of life, we must learn to restructure our lives around God, not ourselves. How easy it seems to take life into our own hands, make our own plans, then find that we cannot manage them. Therefore, it is essential to empty our vessel of those things that are filling our lives with our own doings and allow God to re-fill our lives with grace and beauty and joy. If we do not, life will be only an existence and no real life at all.

The Sabbath under Christ, the Lord’s day, is a day unto the Lord, an entire day, a small gift of time that we give back to Him who has given us six days to work and one day for Him. In doing so, we give ourselves the gift of rest from our earthly labors. (Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:14).

Under the law of Christ, the Jewish Sabbath is no longer observed as an ordinance or law, but that does not mean that we should not rest from all our distractions, our work, our daily routines. The principle of the Sabbath, or a day of rest should still be observed. Most Christians observe this practice on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week—Sunday.

Sad to say, even the Sunday “rest” is slipping away from our modern society. The malls, the amusements, and almost every type of commerce is still conducted on Sunday. Our society has become lax in observing the principle of rest. Even our college students are taking tests on Sundays.

The principle of rest is sadly missing from our society and it is affecting our lives, our homes, our worship, and our attitudes toward God and His work.

In observing the principle of rest, we find delight in God, we renew our faith, find joy in living, happiness in simplicity. We become mare aware of our own dependency upon a Sovereign God and not on our own intellectual ability to work out our own lives according to our own plans.

To find this place of rest and our own personal “Sabbath,” we must first empty our vessel of those things that are choking our lives with meaningless and unproductive clutter. Some things are necessary, but if we consider our daily lives, we will find many things that can be eliminated. However, we must be willing to set them aside and to rid ourselves of those things, however dear, are in reality, unnecessary.

We must learn to stop and rest.

Busy people, workaholics, over achievers, perfectionists, and all un-restful and unfruitful, and unproductive lifestyle habits must cease, must stop, and some must permanently end. You know what brings you down, what keeps you from God, what keeps you from rest…unload it.

On this one day, empty yourself of all your concerns, all the things on your “to do” list, your household chores, your upcoming schedules and appointments. Turn off your cell phones, your computers, every distraction in your life. Just rest and worship, reflect and meditate. Allow God to pour into your vessel the life giving grace, joy, and peace, those things that keep us close to God. If we learn to do this, then we can manage well during the next six working days of the week.

Our personal rest can be a time to stop and “smell the roses,” to enjoy nature, our children, our parents. It can be a time to read for pleasure, to roam, to walk, to dream. Quiet the internal noise of life and learn to tune into God and hear His voice. Find a secret place, take a long nap, rest…rest…rest from your labors.

In learning to stop and rest for one day a week, you will find you are more energized, more creative, more the person God intended you to be. The principle of resting can do more for you than all the vitamin B-12 you can consume or all the caffeine you can drink. Give yourself a rest!

©2010 Ruth Ellinger