Come Away Awhile

As the world shuts down around us I keep hearing whispers that part of why this is so hard for our country and community is that we are terrible at actually resting.

I keep hearing that this is almost like a forced Sabbath in some ways. The only problem being that Sabbath is more than a list of things we do or do not do; it’s a posture of the heart. It’s a posture that hears Jesus whisper, in the midst of overwhelming needs, chaos, fears, and lack—to come away awhile, and actually listens.

I love that Jesus isn’t afraid to take his disciples out of the crowd, the pressing needs, the chaos of a life in oppression under the Roman government, to get alone awhile and rest. Though Jesus pokes holes in the Pharisaical interpretation of Sabbath with things like healings in the synagogue on that Holy day, He shows us in innumerable other places that he knows we as his disciples, vitally need rest. And he wants to give that to us.

My family and I are all healthy at the moment; but as I read in an article yesterday, “panic breeds panic”, and photos of empty store shelves and people lining up for miles to be tested for this virus now gone pandemic, and a peek at the stock market (*yeesh*) all serve me up a daily dose of fear right now. So Saturday morning I got out and took a walk.

It was still dark, but the light of dawn was just starting to color the horizon in pink and purple hues, and I kept hearing Jesus remind me to keep my eyes fixed on the horizon. Because this current moment, the world and its chaos, is not all there is. As I wrote in my recent publication with Fathom magazine, “this is all only/the breath/ between.”

And on my walk something new came to me; a chorus and a melody. When I got home I started tinkering with it at my guitar and FULL DISCLOSURE: I AM NO MUSICIAN. But I do love music, and I do love God, and I do need the Lord to remind me of the truest truths beneath chaotic and difficult-to-predict circumstances. I need to remember that his invitation to “come away awhile” is not contingent on all being easy and calm in the world, but is actually all the more critical the more strained things become.

Like Daniel praying in his room when he knew it was against the law—how could he stop praying at a time like that?

So I wrote this song. And like I said, I am no musician, and it probably isn’t very good. But I feel God tugging me to share it with you all, that maybe you would be blessed by what God is doing in my heart in the midst of a season that feels so unknown.

I plan to send the song out with my February/March newsletter in a day or so and you can click here to sign up and make sure that you receive it. (Be sure to confirms your subscription, and check your junk mail if you are already signed up and don’t see it!)

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May you remember in the midst of uncertain days dear readers, the wonderful words of James Bryan Smith.

“I am one in whom Christ dwells and delights. I live in the strong and unshakeable Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is not in trouble, and neither am I.”

James Bryan Smith

May we hear Jesus’ call to “come away awhile” in the midst of this present darkness, and may we actually listen.

By His grace and for His glory,

Grace Kelley

This One is for the Weary

It’s been a season of recovery. The weight of the world had been crushing me for so long, and I, ever the stubborn child, kept taking the load from God’s shoulders and putting it back on my own. A human heart was never meant to carry all that weight—all that grief.

It’s amazing how easy it is to fool ourselves. I thought for sure that I was trusting God. That I was living by His power and strength; but then the strength ran out. And I realized that all along this year it was my strength and not His.

My high capacity—my ability to “do” so much, is also one of my greatest weaknesses. I think I am working by God’s power, until I have no power left, and finally then realize that I have been leaning on my own paltry resources.

My own well has run dry; if you could call it a “well” . It’s easy enough to see now that my own source of water in the wilderness is a muddy hole compared to the sweet stream of the Holy Spirit’s power in the land. And now I am turning again from my own power, and drinking deeply again of His. I think this is what they call repentance.

I am being refreshed; slowly but surely. Maybe this is something you need too.

I think during seasons of intensity, hardship, and struggle it can be really easy to just keep plowing through. It can be easy to think that there is no other way—and of course, to some extent, you do have to keep going. There are people depending on you. Work has to be done.

All that is well and good. But I have found that sometimes I use these “have to’s” as an excuse to never sit still. It’s the control freak in me. It’s the pride to again accomplish all that needs doing by my own will power. And it’s also the fear: because I knew if I sit still long enough I’m going to have to wrestle with the emotional level of what is going on around me, and I don’t want to.

Sometimes the first step to finding God’s provision and refreshment in a dry and desert season, is to stop looking.

Huh?

Sometimes it’s just time to sit down, cry out to God, and wait. Sometimes we are missing the blessing of the refreshment He wants to offer us right here and right now because we are so busy running around doing ALL-THE-THINGS trying to manufacture a life that feels more manageable and under control.

For our family in this season, a rhythm that has served us with consistency has been the rhythm of taking a day of rest: of accepting from the good hand of God our Father, the gift of Sabbath.

Sabbath Rest

I know you might come to this phrase with a whole cart load of pre-conceived notions. Whether you grew up in a faith tradition that practiced Sabbath religiously, or whether you see that word here and think, “hey, we don’t have to follow the law anymore remember?” I hope you can set all those pre-conceptions aside for a moment and listen to the heartbeat of God in this passage of scripture.

“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”

Deuteronomy 5:12-15 ESV

This is what I hear God saying:

Remember—you were a slave. You were bound to work as long as there was a master standing over you. But now, you have been set free, and I am not that kind of master. I will uphold you the six days that you work, and on the seventh I will give you rest as a part of my provision for you, because I love you, and I want what is best for you.

For me, practicing Sabbath goes in direct contrast with so many of my sinful tendencies. My tendency to control, to be self-sufficient, to earn the favor of God and men by my work, to feel justified in my own over-inflated opinion of myself.

But it also stops me in my tracks when I want to just keep busy so I don’t have time to think: Sabbath is my invitation from God to stop, sit, and be with Him in the middle of whatever I am going through, and in the middle of all the big feelings I may be having about it.

Maybe this is something God wants to bless you with too: with time and space to just be still—to bring Him your cares and your struggles—to allow yourself to grieve all that needs grieving right now, in His compassionate presence.

Maybe this is a gift you are longing to unwrap, but you’re not quite sure where to start.

If so, then I have something that may help. I have created what I’m calling a Sabbath quick start guide for anyone who is interested in pursuing a more consistent rhythm of rest, and it can be yours for absolutely free. Just click the link and give me your email so I can send it your way.

There are so many more words I could write about the way this practice of Sabbath has blessed me: but the main thing I want to tell you is that the more I study what the scriptures have to say about Sabbath, the more convinced I am that it isn’t at all about doing one more religious activity—instead it is our written invitation to come to the Father, weary and broken as we are, to rest.

Sabbath is about accepting the rest that God wants to give to you as provision: even though it might not look the way you hoped or expected.

(But more on that in another post.)

For today, I hope you can ask yourself, what might my life look like if I took intentional time to rest and connect with the heart of my Father God, even and especially in this season of hardship I am going through?

And if you need another resource? Earlier this year I was delighted to partner with my friend Sarah Westfall, as she compiled the voices of so many women who are passionate about clinging to God in the midst of seasons of incredible heartache and loss. She brought us all together for a sweet little 30 day Devo called Be Still: Leaning into God when everything falls apart and you can get either your Kindle or paperback copy by clicking here.

If you have been following me on Social media, especially Instagram for any length of time, you know that I tend to share more about our Sabbath practices there than anywhere else. Starting the first Saturday of the New Year, I began a 12 week series of posts with practical tips on preparing for Sabbath and I’d love for you to follow along. You can find me there and on Facebook @gracekelleywrites.

Blessings on you Dear Reader. May the REST of God bless you today with the refreshment your soul needs.

Gracie

Divine Intervention

Sometimes it feels impossible to dream the dream that darkness doesn’t actually win. The space between my head belief—that God is good, in control and on His way back for us—and my broken heart; crushed beneath the cares of this world, is farther than I ever thought. Shortening the gap will take an act of divine intervention.

Last week I was so depressed by all the sorrow surrounding me—too many sorrows, and most of them not mine enough to name here. I have never been depressed really, though I have journeyed through dark days more than once. Sometimes you just can’t seem to remember where to look for the light, when the darkness feels like it might actually be winning.

This is the impossible task: to be Kingdom minded people in a world not our home—to hold out the hope of the Gospel, a tender flame that banishes the darkness from every hidden place, but first, it illuminates it. I’ve seen more darkness now than I ever could have stood ten years ago. Each sorrow, each grief, each horror feels closer and heavier than the last; and yet, God asks me not to be afraid. He asks me to trust him. To look to the horizon and see the faintest lightening of the dawn. To believe that He is coming soon.

How far we have fallen! How broken the world and the people in it! The more I know the beauty of Jesus and all He calls us to, the easier it is to mourn for all the ways we have destroyed the world He made. The curse is found everywhere. There is no escaping it.

But I can’t get stuck here. Because this story does not end in defeat. No. This story climaxes with the King of Love himself journeying into the very heart of this dark world, letting himself be killed on a roman cross, dying a torturous death as he took the burden and the penalty for all our sin and brokenness on himself. And He didn’t stay dead.

Three days later He rose to life again, and showing himself to all the disciples, proclaiming the forgiveness of sins through belief in His finished work on the cross on our behalf. Then after 40 days He ascended into heaven once more, leaving us with the message: I am coming again, soon.

Why is it so hard to believe? My heart is so easily fooled. So easily tricked into despair. Can I not keep my eye on the horizon? Do I still disbelieve in the dawn?

He is coming soon. He actually is. Coming to make all things new. Coming to wipe every tear away from our eyes. Coming to bring His children home to a house that He has been preparing for us. Coming to bring His bride to the wedding feast.

But I need the glimpse of heaven now. I need a taste of the Kingdom now. Because the stench of death is in my nose, and it’s hard sometimes to look up to where the light comes from. Sometimes all it seems to do is display the brokenness is astounding relief.

But I know the beauty of Jesus would be enough to make my heart rejoice; if I would open my eyes to actually see. To see the whispered prayer over the sick child, and the mini-miracles as more than just coincidence. To see the prayer for the peace in the midst of the storm answered in just enough courage to get me through. To feel the breath in my lungs as the divine provision of strength for the day that I have asked for, given in advance.

All is grace.

And what a grace it is now that God has finally got me to the end of myself again. If only I weren’t so prideful; so stubborn; so self-sufficient. Maybe then it wouldn’t take so much of a pounding to get me here. Because “here” is the sweetest place of my faith; when I have finally come to the end of all my resources. When I am wrung out and ragged and beat up beyond recognition. When I just can’t will myself to hope any longer; Hope himself comes along and scoops me up, and carries me. Here, I don’t have to “try harder” any more. Here, I don’t have to “figure out” how I’m going to accomplish A, B, or C. Here, I rest in the assurance of a Hope that has proven himself real to me, when I least expected it. When I had given up looking for him. When like Frodo in Tolkein’s Return of the King, I have forgotten what strawberries even taste like…it is then the eagles come for me.

I cannot will my hope into being any longer. And that’s okay. It’s even a good thing. In this place of deep hurt and sadness; when the darkness seems to surround me; when I have FINALLY come to the end of all my paltry human resources—there God is. Waiting. Arms wide open.

Today, I will let Him. But I’m sure tomorrow I’ll try and jump out of His arms again, and it will be this constant battle to lean on the One with the resources, when in my pride, I think I can do so much. Maybe today is a good day to beg for humility. Maybe that is the first miracle that I truly need. Maybe this one act of divine intervention, will open my eyes to see. Maybe then I’ll start to see the everyday miracles in sweet relief.

Cultivating Margin in the Midst of Hardship

I used to think margins were a luxury for the very, very rich. I thought that if someone felt good enough about their work done in the main hours of anything to cultivate spaces in between it all, then they must have been rich indeed. Or maybe they really just had money seeping out their ears while they slept on the couch after a movie marathon, and that was how they could justify the rest. It is as ridiculous as it sounds.

But just the other day the thought struck me; that it’s more than margins. It’s more like refusing to do the opposite of leaving margins. It’s refusing to cut it too close.

“Well, you probably missed that one,” we heard from under the furrowed brow of the man clicking on his computer at the Air Canada check in desk. My best friend and I had just enjoyed the most magical week on Prince Edward Island. We saw some sights, walked on the red sand beaches and ate Canada’s most famous Cow’s Creamery ice cream. But when it came time to leave early that Friday morning, we had forgotten that we needed to put gas in the rental car.

I secretly wish there had been a camera filming the action as we struggled to figure out a) how to open the gas compartment on a mini-cooper b)how to pre-pay in liters for enough gas to fill said mini cooper, and c) how to realize earlier that google was taking us on a 45 minutes detour instead of just telling us to make a u-turn, on our way back to the road from the gas station.

When we ended up on a one-way dirt track we realized it: we had cut it all way, way too close, and we were very possibly going to miss our flight to Toronto. But we had a hope, that since the airport we were leaving from only had two gates, that we would probably be able to sneak in 30 minutes before our flight left.

“I don’t suppose you can get two more suitcases on the plane Brody…” the grouchy man with the furrowed white brows spoke into the walkie, he seemed to be willing Brody to say no.

“OH YEAH…” we heard the cheerful voice on the other side, “No problem at all!”

We owe the happy ending of this story to a man with a cart who was not afraid to come and get our tardy baggage. We made it on the plane just as the sun was coming up over the Island, but as we stood on the stairway waiting to board, there was no doubt in our minds, that aside from blindly following google’s directions, the main problem was that we had cut it all way too close. Though this week of rest with my best friend was in so many ways a testament to my learned ability to rest in the midst of seasons of intensity and hardship, I had forgotten to leave margin at the end of it all, to leave room for inevitable hiccups that come when you are traveling, especially in another country.

For so many years I lived a “cutting it close” kind of life. I respected following distance when driving to be sure (I was and am, a rule follower by nature), but when it came to cultivating any kind of personal margin to preserve my sanity; I wasn’t into it. I think I actually felt crazier when I tried to STOP what I was doing in order to rest. As newlyweds, my husband saw this monster of perfectionism up close and personal, as I obsessively cleaned late into the evening and refused to respect my bedtime. Always to my own detriment, and his. How would it be that years later, when I became the parent of a daughter who suffered from terrible tummy pain, that I would finally learn how to rest?

I think so often when we are faced with suffering of any kind, but especially the suffering of our children, it can be so easy to swing the pendulum the opposite direction, and try desperately, to control the situation. And to be sure; as parents we are called to steward our children as best we can, to keep them safe from harm and to help them heal when harm has been done. But there is also peace in realizing that it is not all up to me. There is a heavenly father who loves my daughter, who cherishes her, even as He cherishes me. He watches over Ellie on the couch when I take five minutes to go get a glass of water and wash my face. He comforts her in the quiet dark when I can do nothing more than sit next to her and rub her feet. When I am hungry in the middle of the night, having stayed awake every hour when I would normally be resting to take care of a little girl in flare-up, it behooves me to leave enough margin in my own heart, to accept the rest that God wants to give to me: to heat up a bowl of the soup a loving friend brought for me, and then go and resume my place next to her on the couch.

This is how I refuse to cut things too close; not that I take or fight my way for what I feel are my own personal needs—but that in those moments, I quiet my heart before the Lord, and I accept the rest that He wants to give me. I leave room. As I provide, I must also accept His gracious provision.

It is in the spaces in between; the space between the loading of the groceries and the drive home. The space between the laying down of the last sleepy head, and the laying of my own weary head on the pillow. The space between the alarm clock ringing, and the words I write so early on the page. These are the spaces that God invites me to rest in the fullness of who He is; and who I am as a result of that. He invites me to create space in my mind and my heart, to welcome Him into whatever difficultly, I am currently facing.

If you are suffering; or if you are walking through suffering with someone else, what would it look like for you to cultivate a little margin today? How can you accept the rest that God wants to provide to you, even in the smallest moments, so that you can endure the trials and cheer on others who are enduring with you?

Dearest Reader, it takes a recognition that we are not in control to sit down for a moment and rest in the midst of hardship, but in the end, that surrender is where peace comes. Here we make space for the small things that could become as urgent as a missed flight if left unattended. Here we make space to fill up a glass of water for ourselves, as well as for someone else. Here we make space to acknowledge that God is God, and we are not. We are finite, and so needy, and that is not a liability, it’s an opportunity for God to meet us.

Scatter those seeds

Sometimes the pain of it all feels like a heavy weight. Like cotton in your brain. Like you can’t see or hear. Or breathe.

Sorrows weigh us down; they make us limp. When I was nine, I twisted my ankle after doing a roundoff of a balance beam in gymnastics class. I had to wrap it, ice it, keep it elevated. Rest.

But oftentimes it feels harder to give ourselves the emotional grace, when sorrows and hardship leave us wounded, like we have a twisted ankle, or worse. Some days my heart feels so bruised I wonder if it’s actually internal bleeding.

So today, here is your permission to not do it all. You don’t have to be productive. The to-do list can fall by the way side. The dishes can stack up in the sink. The laundry can fluff for the fourth day in a row and you can have sandwiches for lunch and dinner both.

It’s okay. It’s really okay.

Today the sun shines brilliant in the sky, but the hearts of many I love are grieving deeply. There is no bandaid to fix any of it. There seems to be only the endless ocean of pain. How do we handle it when our prayers aren’t answered the way we hope they will be? When the 11th hour rescue doesn’t come…how do you hold on to hope?

Maybe this is where we’ve been led of course all this time. Maybe it was wrong to think of hope as this pitiful small thing; this waning attempt at positivity. The truth is that hope is a battle; and today, yes today, you must fight.

Fight hard. Because if you are in Christ, then this too shall pass. And it is well with your soul. And even death cannot separate forever. We have more to live for and more to hope for than this earthly place; these lives we live in the shadowlands. We have eternity stretching out before us; and as one of my wonderful pastors said while we studied through the book of Job two years ago; “heaven is not a consolation prize.”

Heaven is not a consolation prize. I repeated it to myself just this morning. It’s not a dumb trinket you get at the bottom of a happy meal; heaven is the all. It is everything we are longing for.

“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our GOD; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.'”

(Isaiah 25:6-9)

Someday—someday soon—we will be dancing and singing and eating with our Savior King who himself went through unimaginable suffering on our behalf.

Thank you Jesus, this is not how our stories end. This is anything but the end. Dearest Reader, if you find yourself today in a place of deep grief or sorrow, I pray that these words comfort you. And that they remind you that it’s okay to know in your heart what God has done, what He is doing, and then just rest. It’s okay to just be. On days that begin with terrible grief, it’s more thank okay to just sit and be still, and let God hold you.

He is making all things new; even when it looks like everything around you is falling to pieces. I know it. I’ve seen it. I hope today, you can dare with me, to believe that it’s true.

That’s why, after too many months of hype, God knew that today was finally the day for Scattered: a seven day journey toward planting seeds of hope in the soil of suffering to be released into the world. If you need someone to kneel in the dirt of your present circumstances with you, I’d be honored to be that person. Just click here to sign up and get you’ll get the link to download my free ebook delivered directly to your inbox. It’s in a PDF format so you can either read it on your phone, your computer or print it off at home.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD Scattered: a seven day journey toward planting seeds of hope in the soil of suffering.

Today, on a day that felt abysmally dreary, I left the dishes and the laundry and the floor unswept; and I went out and planted seeds. Because the Bible teaches that what is sown in dishonor will be raised in new life; and though planting seeds is my least favorite part of the gardening process for just this reason, that I struggle to believe, God knows. And today this is exactly what I need.

[Photo by Constellate on Unsplash]

Set Me a Place

Not all rest is created equal

The last few weeks Sabbath hasn’t felt as good. 

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that for the past four months our family has been making a new habit; that is the habit of keeping the Sabbath. 

Each Friday night when the sun goes down we stop working, we stop doing dishes, and we generally only do the basic things we need to do to keep our kids and ourselves fed (which generally means microwaving leftovers).

Willy has taken to sometimes doing small house projects, which I know seems very anti-Sabbath, but since fixing things is something he truly enjoys doing, we allow it. Just as I am allowed to harvest things from the garden because it’s something I truly enjoy doing, and both of these are far enough from our daily grind of work as to be refreshing to our souls. 

But you know what I realize we have been missing in our Sabbath’s lately? 

HIM. 

When we first started doing Sabbath I was super intentional to make sure that it was a day that we figuratively “set a place for Jesus” at the table. Where we paid special attention to what He was doing in and through us. Where we looked around for all the opportunities to commune with him, either by reading the children a Bible story, or by dancing around to worship music, or by taking a family walk. 

These past few weeks I feel like we’ve been working till we just can’t anymore. And Sabbath is our break from that work, but even the physical rest of sitting on the couch and letting the kids watch a movie is so far from being enough. We need Him.

What are you after?

Last week we were getting ready to go to a friend’s house. And as I was lacing up my three-year-old’s shoes he kept trying to figure out which friend it was, but instead of asking about the children in the family we were going to visit, he kept asking about the toys. 

“Do they have a basement? Is it the one with the microwave? The kitchen? The toy vacuum?” 

I confirmed for him that it was a house with a basement, AND the one with the toy microwave. 

“YAY!!!” He said and smiled and started clapping his hands. 

And while he was definitely being cute, and I was happy he was excited to go to a friend’s house, I could’t help but be disturbed by the fact that he was more excited about playing with his friends’ toys, than he was playing with his friends. 

Until I realized that I have been doing that exact same thing.

The Lord of the Sabbath

The truth of the matter is that I can often approach the Sabbath the same way that my son approaches going to a friend’s house. I can be joyful, looking forward to it, etc. But if I’m just looking forward to Sabbath for the sake of the physical rest through the break from cooking and dishes; I’m going to be missing out. Though of course, those things are good and are even a piece of what God intended me to enjoy on the Sabbath, if I’m not also (and mainly) looking forward to spending time with Him, it’s never going to be enough.

Sabbath is one of God’s commands, not just so that we don’t wear out our bodies with physical exhaustion, or burn out our minds with mental tasks; but so that we will take that intentional time to reconnect with God and receive soul rest. I believe God  wants us to be able to walk into the next day and the next week with a sense of rest and refreshment on the level of our Soul, that really can’t be experienced except in time with Him.

It’s worth noting that even before the fall, this was a part of our design. On the sixth day God created man, and on the seventh, he rested, and not alone, but with the man he had made. It’s important to remember that God doesn’t tell us to spend time with Him as some sort of make-shift addendum for the exhaustion of living in a sin-filled world, but that it was likely always a need we had, before we had many others.

Maybe for many of you, if you practice the Sabbath on the day you go to church, this is a much more natural connection. But thus far, we have been practicing Sabbath on Saturdays and so I feel we need to fight a little harder than we have been to be intentional about our rest. I want to make sure that we are truly receiving the rest we can only get from Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. 

Set Him a Place

It seems totally counter intuitive, to feel like we have to purposely make room for our omnipresent Lord. But because we know that Satan’s ambition is to destroy every good thing, I think for our own family, we have to fight that default of collapsing into less-significant rest with a specific kind of intentionality. So this weekend; I’m going to set Him an ACTUAL place. 

When we sit down for dinner Friday night, I’ll leave a place for Him at the table. And when I wake Saturday morning, I pray my first thought will be of my need for Him, and my joy in His goodness to give us the Sabbath as an inheritance. As the day goes on, I want to visualize Him sitting on the couch next to me or walking down the street besides me. As cooky as these things sound (even to the person typing them) I know I don’t honestly live most of my days like Jesus is right here with me.

But He is. Maybe Sabbath is my chance to act like He’s with me enough to plan for Him like I would for an honored guest. To extend hospitality to Him by saying, “I see you. You are here with me, and I’m so GLAD you are here.” 

Together, let us love the giver of the gifts more than the gifts themselves. Let us enjoy the gift of the Sabbath by fully embracing the rest it brings us from the physical and mental stressors of everyday life, while also embracing the rest our souls will only find in Him. 

Habits of Rest: Keeping Sabbath

Psalm 131 (A song of Ascents, of David)

“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;

My eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things

Too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

Like a weaned child with its mother;

Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD

From this time forth and forevermore.”

For those of you that follow me on Instagram, you know that recently I have been digging into a new habit; the habit of keeping Sabbath. Now I don’t do this in really any kind of formulaic or even strictly religious way, but God has been tugging at my heart about this topic for awhile now. And after reading the book Rhythms of Rest by Shelley Miller, I realized that resting on the Sabbath is a gift that God wants to give to me, even me in my busiest seasons with little people at home.


Let it Rest

A couple weeks ago my husband and I were blessed with a little time away as we look forward to the arrival of our third child sometime in the next few weeks. When we got to the house at Breck, all we could hear was quiet and bird song. At least, that’s what we noticed first since we are used to living in a house with two rambunctious young children.

The quiet brings with it this peacefulness, and I wanted to let that peacefulness seep into my bones. The breeze was blowing through the open eastern windows that first morning, keeping me cool as I sat at the dining table to write. For me, a 35 weeks pregnant lady in a Colorado July, this escape to the mountains was an escape from the heat of the lower altitudes as much as it was an escape from the busyness of our every-day life. As I wrote at my computer during the early morning freshness, all I could hear was the breeze in the trees, a hawk circling somewhere nearby, and the clack clack of my fingers on the keys. And being away, I didn’t anticipate any sounds other that that. It’s easy to let the silence invade in a place far away from the usual rhythm of everyday life with it’s typical responsibilities, but how do we let that silence invade during our normal week? How do we come to rest on Sabbath, when our every days lives are so full of constant needs and demands?

Plan for Rest (the practical) , 

As I have been sharing in mini-blogs and posts on my instagram, for me the practical aspects of Sabbath include preparations. How to rest on Sabbath includes, planning for rest. For us specifically, this looks like preparing food enough food on Friday that we can enjoy delicious things to eat on Sabbath without my having to cook. It means making sure I’ve run any errands that I need to run by Friday night, and planning to do any crazy house cleaning or projects on any day other than Saturday. It means I make sure I’ve taken out the trash and wiped the counters, and that I’ve washed the vast majority of the dishes before the sun sets and we use paper plates for the next 24 hours. We take our time drinking our coffee. We watch the goats graze. We read the Bible and extra stories to our kids and spend time asking them questions and listening with undivided attention. We take naps. We have a movie night. We eat a special dessert that I prepared on Friday. (Homemade Goat milk ice cream has been the favorite of late!) In short, though it looks different from week to week, we choose to spend this set apart day in “peaceful celebration”.

For you it could be similar, or totally different. You could celebrate on Saturday like us, or any other day of the week that works better for you. Maybe you eat out on Sabbath instead of cooking the day before. Maybe you stay home, or maybe you go on a hike or a family adventure. Maybe you spend time in your garden because that is life giving to you, or maybe you spend most of the day reading or in quiet reflection. Maybe you refrain from doing anything “extra” no matter how great the temptation is. It doesn’t really matter exactly what you do or don’t do, so long as you are choosing with intention what you will do or not do, as an act of worship, and for the sake of true rest.

Anticipate Rest (the spiritual) 

But even more important than these practical aspects to think through is the preparation of spirit we need in order to cultivate a truly meaningful Sabbath rhythm. I call this anticipating rest.

Anticipating a time of peacefulness of spirit; of rest, is part of preparing our hearts to receive what God wants to give us on Sabbath. Like the traditional setting of an extra seat at the Sabbath table, he asks us to come expectant, for him to show up. And he doesn’t show up empty handed.

“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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

We prepare our hearts for Sabbath when we allow the LORD to set our expectation. Does it seem too high to you? Does it seem like with your life, your circumstances, your job, your kids, your ministry, that he couldn’t have meant YOU when he promised rest? The word “all” is pretty inclusive though isn’t it? Maybe this is strong, but I think we have to work pretty hard to willfully misinterpret what he meant there… and yet, how many of us do that?

Pride and unbelief will try to steal the dearest, sweetest, promises of scripture away from you. The promise of rest is one among many that I think it has become so culturally easy to ignore. Perhaps we’ve let our God become too small. Perhaps we read that verse as a comforting intention for what he would like to give us, if only he were able. But of course, saying that out loud, it’s easy to see what an insane heresy that is.

The God of the Universe promises rest! The God who formed mountains and seas; who designed the expansive universe and also designed the smallest function of every cell in your body. The God who died on a cross for sinful man and them RAISED HIMSELF FROM THE DEAD… this God promises rest.

He doesn’t say, “Come over here and we’ll see what I can scrounge up to give you…” He isn’t sorting through his pockets for loose change. He is the God who makes promises, the God who keeps promises, because he alone is the all powerful deity with the ability to actually, perfectly, do both. 

He promises rest. He built the law of rest into his world on the 7th day after it’s birth (Genesis 2:1-3). He put commands for rest in the center of his very law (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). And when he came to earth to live among us, he lived and breathed Sabbath rest even in the rigors of his earthly ministry (Luke 5:16).

Do you believe me yet? Rest is and was God’s idea. And he longs for us to come to him anticipating it.

We can sit with him quietly, like in that passage from the Psalms, we can tell our soul to sit quietly like a weaned child on his mother’s lap. We can surrender to him and his kind intentions towards us. We can choose not to worry about the things that are too great and marvelous for us. We can lean in to trust the one who has nourished us and carried us thus far, who has promised to carry us still. We can anticipate that our needs will be met, just as they have been before. Like my son Boaz rests with me now that he is a little older, he lays his head on my shoulder and asks nothing more than to be held. And I will hold him, often, for as long as he’ll let me.


Dear Reader, if rest has long seemed too far out of reach, remember that the spirit of Sabbath exists even in the smallest moments when we quiet ourselves before the Lord. When you humble yourself. When you remember who he is, and who you are, and that that world will keep spinning with or without you. This next week, I hope you find some time, be it a whole day or even just an hour, to quiet your soul before him.  Do whatever it takes to set aside some time with intention. Prepare to Rest. Then come anticipating Rest. Keep your hands open. Remember his great love for you. Don’t let Satan lie to you any longer; no matter who you are or where you are at today, this invitation is for you.  


You can follow my journey towards rest and Sabbath at @gracieishomesteady, or with the hashtag #learninghowtosabbath if you’d like to see my weekly posts on this topic specifically. Please feel free to leave me a comment there, or here, or shoot me an email if this topic resonated with you and you’d like to learn more. I’d also love to hear how your time of rest went if you pursue it with intention this week.

May we Cultivate a Fruitful life, by God’s grace and for his glory.

P.S. Speaking of rest, as many of you know we are due with our sweet baby boy in a couple weeks at the time this blog will be posted. As I didn’t make it to my due date with either of my first two babies, I don’t expect to with this one either, so if you don’t hear from me for a hot second, then you know why! Stay tuned to my Instagram for baby updates, as I’ll likely post there first. I do have some bomb-digity guest posters scheduled to help me cover a few weeks in August, but wanted to let all you readers know ahead of time. Looking forward to this special time with my family, and to returning to you with even more stories of God’s sufficiency in providing rest by his grace, through the sleepless newborn days!