Entering Into Rest: thoughts about Sabbath

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We all need rest.

We want to support you in your journey to enter into rest so we’ve created a short guide to help you reflect. Download it to your phone or device and create space to respond to each prompt.

Entering Into Rest

It doesn’t seem like it should make sense that being home more, quarantining for Covid, working from home, could make us more tired. But changes in our daily rhythms of work, school, and play can have an enormous impact in all areas of our lives. Our home, the place where we usually come to rest from work and school, is now a hub of action. A change in the rhythms of our lives can make us feel like it is void of rest. And it can take a lot of time and energy to discover and implement how resting looks in these new rhythms. But resting is essential to our being.

A Sabbath: the created rhythm of rest.

Sabbath and rest are mentioned throughout the Bible – in the Old Testament Sabbath commands gave rest to everyone, including the oppressed and vulnerable – slaves, immigrants, and the poor. In the New Testament, Hebrews 4:9-11 (NLT) says,

“there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest.”

But what does Sabbath or rest look like in our everyday rhythms of life?

Sabbath has its roots in God resting after creating the world. It was a time to sit back and reflect, to observe all that was made, to savor it, and to let it be. By taking a Sabbath rest after the work of creating the world, God demonstrates that we are in relationship with a God of rest. Walter Brueggemann writes,

“Sabbath becomes a decisive, concrete, visible way of opting for aligning with the God of rest.”

We are invited into God’s rest – to reflect and observe the world around us and in us, to take the opportunity to act counter-culturally against the busyness of life, to be quiet and listen, to be with God with no agenda. The practice of sabbath gives rest to our body, mind, and spirit, preparing and engaging our inner life into whole living with God.

Are you tired? Do your rhythms feel like they are not the same anymore? What would a period of rest, or sabbath, look like for you?

When We Rest

When we rest, we give honor to ourselves and others, our God-created body, mind, and soul, by also acknowledging our human limitations. Sabbath reminds us that our worth is not measured by what we do, but who we are as a creation of Christ, as image-bearers, as the beloved we are valued just by “being”. It is a time to trust God with all that is and rest in His provision.

However, we all know, resting can be difficult! With so many different things (even good and great things) vying for our time and attention. Being quiet can be difficult as our minds race with worries of this or that, or even fear of what may rise to the surface if our mind is quiet for a moment. But even when we don’t feel good at being quiet, we may find a beautiful opportunity to practice placing our burdens in the hands of God. Jenn Giles Kemper writes,

“A regular practice of Sabbath honors our limits and allows space for a deepening experience of trust in God. When we willingly release control, our inclination toward self-sufficiency is gently removed. With unclenched fists, our own striving and tending fade. As we open our hands, we entrust our lives and our world to God again…”

What does honoring our limits and humanity mean to you?

This rest does not have to fall on a given day, although that can be helpful for the rhythms of life. It can be a moment, a few hours, any time to stop, quiet the racing thoughts, and be still with Jesus. Be. Look around wherever you are. Take a deep breath. (When was the last time you took a deep breath?) Take in what is around you. See what is beautiful. Name what is good.

Eugene Peterson writes

“If you keep the Sabbath, you start to see creation not as somewhere to get away from your ordinary life, but a place to frame an attentiveness to your life.”

Intentional spaces of rest help quiet the mind, heart, spirit, and body. They restore and rejuvenate us. Most of all, they remind us that our humanity, and that of every person across the world, is a gift given to us all by God. When our souls are restored, we are able to recognize that we are all the beloved and have a renewed energy to pursue Love and stand for the oppressed, the vulnerable, and the poor.

Sabbath creates space between what was and what will be by pausing and opening ourselves to the kingdom of God here on earth, within ourselves. When we create space for rest, we make space to notice all that we already have received as a gift from the hands of our good, gracious, and generous God.

 

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