I learned something interesting in a book I read recently (Peace Is a Practice by Morgan Harper Nichols–Book Review). You probably know that Benedictine monks are known for choral psalmody. But did you ever realize that in the middle of each verse there is a pause for taking a breath? This is called the media distincto.
Maybe we should apply this idea to our own lives. I don’t know about you, but it seems like I am constantly rushing from one thing to another. “Multi-tasking” is the order of the day. It’s not enough to do one thing well — we have to be juggling two or three or more things at the same time. If we allow our attention to falter, even for a second, all the balls are likely to come tumbling down, causing us to feel that we’ve failed colossally. This isn’t a good way to live. It leads to anxiety and all sorts of mental and physical symptoms of stress. It just isn’t healthy.
So, what’s the alternative? Slow down. Work on one task or attack one problem at a time. When you’re not sure, wait. Rest a while. Pray. Learn to trust God. It won’t be easy when we’ve become used to living on high alert, but we can practice it for one hour, one day, one season at a time.
Take a breath!
For more about slowing down and resting see:
Slow Me Down
Taking A Break
When is it time?
Then he (Jesus) said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27
The verse above is a response given by Jesus when the Pharisees accused his disciples of doing what was “unlawful” on the Sabbath. Their offense was plucking heads of grain (technically harvesting), and this was considered work and forbidden. However, Jesus reminds his listeners that the Sabbath was created for the benefit of humankind — the many rules and regulations were added later by men in an attempt to define what a day of rest should mean.
The word Sabbath literally means “to cease.” You might think of it as a sort of reset button. Just as your computer sometimes freezes up and needs to shut down and be restarted, humans need a cue to stop and refocus. The demands of weekly living pile up– we become overwhelmed and distracted. We need to reboot and get our focus back, and that focus should be on God, the One who created and sustains us.
Naturally that means a Sabbath should include worship. What kind of worship is up to you. I’m a liturgical person, but not everyone is. Maybe the worship style that suits you is more contemporary. It really doesn’t matter, as long as it slows you down and puts God back in His proper position in your life. Afterwards, well, once again, we relax and recharge in different ways. I like to curl up with a good book, but for some people that’s “work.” I have friends who find it relaxing to garden, but that’s a chore to me. Some might enjoy going hiking, where they see God in the beauty of creation; others feel their heart soaring when they listen to music. Maybe you just want to cook and enjoy a wonderful meal with friends or family. God made each of us differently, and it’s okay to enjoy the Sabbath rest in our own way. Maybe your weekly Sabbath can’t even occur on Sunday. That’s okay too.
God doesn’t need anything from us. He’s God, after all. It’s we who need to stop, to worship, to rest and remember why we’re here and to whom we belong. Don’t neglect the Sabbath. It’s a gift from God and he created it just for you!
For more on the Sabbath see this post:
Martin Luther on the Sabbath
From the book, This Day by Wendell Berry:
Teach me work that honors Thy work,
the true economies of goods and words,
to make my arts compatible
with the songs of the local birds.
Teach me patience beyond work
and, beyond patience, the blest
Sabbath of Thy unresting love
which lights all things and gives rest.
In searching for Christian songs and hymns about rest, I came across this one, and I really love it. Maybe you will, too. It certainly describes our restless culture, and our need for the peace only God can give.
“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Psalm 62:1“
In our weekday Bible study we’ve been reading a book, The Holiness of God, by R. C. Sproul. Last week one of the participants said, “we need to rest in God’s love.” What do you think that means exactly?
Well, to me, it means “stop worrying so much!” If God loves us and desires the best for us, we can rest assured that things will work out. Will they always seem to be going smoothly? Will only good things happen to us? Of course, the answer is a resounding NO. It does mean that:
“… in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
We can rest because God has a plan for us, and even when things seem to be out of control, they really aren’t. God’s got us and He’s not letting go. He is our hope and our salvation. We don’t have to depend upon the temporal things of this world. We can rest in His love. It’s the one thing we can count on.
For another post on our Holiness of God study follow this link:
The Blind Men and the Elephant
We can’t talk about spending our time without at some point coming around to what it means to rest. Rest is sadly lacking in our culture. The ability to “multi-task” is held up as a virtue; we’re addicted to technology which connects us to work and to our “social network” constantly; we’re swamped with information, much of it worrisome– even if we quiet our bodies, it’s hard to shut off the continual thoughts and anxieties that beset us.
God knew that we needed rest. At the time of creation, he established a Sabbath.
“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:2-3
Of course, we know that Jesus spoke out against a need to follow the myriad rules about the Sabbath created by the Pharisees. All this keeping track of what could be lawfully done on the day of rest was decidedly unrestful! Jesus knew that what people needed was true rest, the kind they could only find in Him.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28
True rest is found in taking a break from competition, worldly cares and anxieties. It comes from trusting God instead of ourselves, our government or even our family — all these things can fail. It comes from discovering who we really are — God’s creation, made to serve Him and others. It comes from realizing our true worth as God’s child. For many of us find the best way to find rest is to set aside time to spend with God, get to know Him and His plan for our lives. It can happen ever Sunday morning at worship services. So this week — get some rest, real rest.
Well, I had a different theme in mind for this month, but after reading Kate’s post yesterday, I decided she raised some important questions that the Lutheran Ladies need to address. What are our spiritual gifts? How do we employ them? What activities inspire creativity? What does it mean to rest? How do we lead balanced lives? How do I become a good steward of the time and gifts with which I have been blessed. I think we can incorporate all of these ideas under the umbrella of “spending time.”
Time is one of the gifts God has given us, but we only have so much. Eventually, for every human, time will run out. It’s an issue we all struggle with in a society that gives us so many options. You’ve all heard the question, “what’s on your bucket list?” ….in other words, what are the things you need to do or accomplish to make your life meaningful.
Kate’s post “Free Time” asked for input from our authors and readers. I hope each of you will give her some ideas this month, drawn from your own experience. Tell us all about your gifts, how you discovered them, and how you have used them to become the person God intended you to be.
God loves you and so do I! Happy blogging and reading!
When I worked for the school district, they had a weekly column in which employees were interviewed. It was kind of a “get to know you” segment where each employee shared some information about their personal life, such as who was in their family and what their hobbies and interests were. Well, eventually it became time to do my column. What I wrote was that I enjoy gardening and cooking and spending time with friends and family. That seemed better than admitting the truth. What I really did for a hobby was come home exhausted from work and lay on the couch watching Netflix until I fell asleep.
Does anyone else struggle to find creativity in their life? Sometimes it seems like we get so caught up in the daily activities of chores, work, and errands that there does not seem like time for anything else. Any free time seems better spent catching up on rest and vegetating in front of the television. However, while those activities might be needed sometimes to rejuvenate ourselves, they are used far more than is needed.
First Timothy 4:14-15 “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”
My goal for this month is to make better use of my free time. I am not exactly sure what gifts I have, but it seems worthwhile to reflect on what they are and how I can better use them. Does anyone have any feedback on how they have found their gifts and what they are doing with them? I am open to suggestions!!