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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s Sunday morning, and the sun is streaming like gold to color the bookshelf, the wall, the baby swing, in the most heavenly of light.
This weekend was crazy for us, as I’m sure it was for many of you if you live in the United States. Giving Thanks with friends and family always takes an extra bit of effort, but it’s worth it.
Our Sabbath preparations this week looked different then. We drank coffee, seriously considered eating pie for breakfast, and then packed up our kids bags to head up to Fort Collins. It wasn’t Black Friday anymore, which meant that fewer people were on the roads and in the stores, and we did make a couple pit stops to glance around for presents at stores in Denver where we don’t normally have the chance to shop. We stopped for lunch.
By the time we were nearly home, my husband was feeling more than usually exhausted. We thought he might be coming down with something. So because of wonderfully thoughtful inventors of gluten-free and sheep cheese frozen pizza that I recently discovered,(Capellos!) we made one final stop and then headed home for a Sabbath evening, even if we couldn’t have the whole day.
I told the kids we were going to have a pajama party. We all got in comfy clothes and pulled out some old quilts, because there are now too many of us to sit all on the couch with a comfortable elbow room between us. And we ate pizza and snuggled and watched The Santa Claus because it’s finally after thanksgiving and there is nothing holding us back from watching any Christmas favorites anymore.
Partway through the movie, I felt a nudge from my tired husband. I looked at him, and he looked at me with such love in his eyes, that I knew that every part of tonight was exactly how it should have been. Our children were snuggled under a quilt eating pizza on wooden trays over the carpet. We were drinking tea with honey, and our baby boy was nursing happily. I think it was even snowing outside a little.
It took a little serving on my part to make everything right, but don’t worry, I left the dishes for this morning. And Sabbath can sneak in in those beautiful moments when we slow down enough to do just exactly what our family needs.
I went to bed early, the suitcases splayed open on the floor and most of their contents displayed haphazardly on the floor in the search for the tooth brushes. The bathroom too was left quite a disaster, as the after-movie bath left half the floor flooded because of some rather *ahem* exuberant splashing on the part of my three year old.
But that is all okay.
I think I learn a little about the heart of God in Sabbath as I help to create it for my family, as well as enjoy it myself. He calls us to lay all the things down for awhile. To stop and rest and be.
He makes us to remember that He alone is God. And that the world does not need my activity to turn it. He calls us back from our idols of work and productivity, a clean house and even from an easy next day sometimes. As variable as our idols are, the Sabbath is designed to help us root them out.
My sister asked me on Friday what I thought about someone saying that Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath. (In reference to no longer needing to practice this part of the law.)
And here is the essence of the thoughts I gave her, more or less: Of course. No one has to keep perfectly the law to be saved. That was the whole reason why God gave the law in the first place, to show us that apart from him we cannot keep the law and that we desperately need a Savior to make us right before God. But just because we don’t have to do something, doesn’t mean that it isn’t God’s heart for us, or that it wouldn’t benefit us. After all, Sabbath was a part of God’s design before sin even came into the world at all. On the Seventh Day God rested from all the work that he had done, and he called it Holy. I personally believe that the Sabbath is a provision from God, one that we are wise to accept and embrace for the sake of fruitfulness in our personal lives as well as continued zeal for the ministry to which God has called each of us.
I’d like to dive into this more. The “Why?” behind Sabbath may just be the thing that is keeping you from practicing what I believe to be, one of the most fruitful habits of all.
The garden is under the weight of frost and snow. The goats have dried up from their milking. The darkness comes earlier each evening and stays longer each morning as the winter solstice approaches. And it’s time to rest.
In the midst of Advent, rest may just be the thing that keeps us grounded and centered on the true meaning of Christmas, which though it has very little to do with Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause, has everything to do with being invited by a loving God into a season of joy and feasting as we reflect on how our God is a God who provides exactly what we need: and what we need more than anything is him with us. Immanuel. Rest can help us slow down enough to tune in to all these truths.
Today we go to Church. And Isaiah will probably take a nap on my lap again. And when we get home we’ll probably take it slow for the second afternoon in a row, and that is perfectly good. Jesus was never in much of a rush, and you don’t have to let the hustle and hurry to celebrate his coming capture you more than his radical love for your precious soul does.
Blessings on you this First Sunday of Advent. May you rest in the one who gave everything to make you his.
Back in May of this year, we planted a peach tree.
It felt a little like cheating, because we planted a tree that was already loaded with the tiny beginnings of peaches. But when you have a choice between peach trees covered in peaches, and peach trees that don’t have any… you’re probably going to pick the ones with peaches.
A tree by it’s fruit right?
We did what all good gardeners do; we lined the hole with compost and (goat) manure to give the tree a little jump start. We cut the root ball so the tree would start to set up and spread out in its new home. We back filled the hole. Tamped down the dirt. We watered until the ground was sodden a foot in each direction. Then we did what all good gardeners must also do; we waited for the fruit to grow.
Two days after we planted our peach tree, we got the earliest, and most devastating hail storm of the season. Torrents of water and ice pelted from the sky for the better part of an hour. I went out there, in jean shorts and mud boots, my great seven-months-pregnant-belly barely fitting under my rain jacket, and tried to cover what I could of our garden’s seedlings with tarps. After struggling with those for the better part of twenty minutes, my shorts were so heavy with water they were weighing me down. My legs were welted from pellets of hail. There was a solid two inches of rain in each of my boots.
And then I looked at our peach tree…and knew there was nothing I could do. Covering it with tarp would have hurt it just as bad as letting it get pelted with marble sized balls of ice. I sat on the milking stand in the garage to dump the water out of my boots, and asked my four year old to grab me a towel. I tried not to worry about our newly planted tree.
In the after math of that hail storm, Fergie proved to be as hearty as the description card on the Reliant Peach proclaimed him to be. There were a bare handful of peaches left on its branches, but it was growing, and we were thankful. We hoped the next year would bring a greater harvest, but we would take what we got this first go around.
We went back to waiting. The children asked every day, “When will the peaches be ripe?”
“When will our baby come??”
The children asked it. My husband asked it. I asked it to the sky more that once, especially after July ended with a very convincing false labor. And I knew our baby could come anytime.
“August.” I said. To them. To myself.
“When the peaches are ripe, our baby will come.”
The long summer days found the kids and I in the baby pool, or hiding inside with our small front room air conditioner unit that kept the house a tolerable 80 degrees. We went to the park. To the farm. All that long summer we had waited for the peaches to ripen; and for our baby to come. And every time it rained, I had the strangest feeling of premonition… like that feeling you get when you see the sky turn sort of green and you know it might hail…that our baby would be born during a late summer rain.
The first week in August we picked the two final peaches that ripened on our tiny tree. We shared them for dessert that night. We picked chokecherries off our back neighbor’s bushes that droop their branches low over our fence, and we made jam. And hungry for more peaches, we went to our favorite farmer and bought an entire box of the juiciest sunset peaches from Palisade.
The second week I made freezer meals and learned how to can chicken stock with my pressure canner. We welcomed home a friend who had been deployed the past eight months of my pregnancy. I sat on the birthing ball. I complained about my pelvis. By the end of the second week we had finished our box of peaches.
The third week, I knew would probably be our last with only two children; my due date a mere handful of days away. I knew he had to come out sometime. I couldn’t actually stay pregnant forever. Yet its hard to wrap your mind around the glory of the harvest when you are still just in the middle of the field pulling weeds. I went to the doctors office. I called my Mom. I bought another box of peaches.
All that summer I felt like Fergie; the peach tree with only two peaches surviving to show for all his hard work. I felt burnt out, wrung out, strung out and weary. And all that summer long, as the birth of our third child approached, I was tentatively asking God for things. But also afraid to ask.
The birth of our second child had been so difficult; an excruciatingly painful 10 hour labor, followed by an unplanned cesarean section. I remember the feelings of despair, breathing shaky into the oxygen mask and looking into my worried husband’s eyes as our baby’s heart rate kept dropping with every contraction, and nothing seemed to help.
But I also know that God had so much good for me in that hardship. Boaz’s birth brought into acute awareness my desire to control outcomes, my anger when I could not, and the terrible pride I had in my previous birth experience, (as well as in my life in general) assuming that if I just “did everything right” things would turn out the way I wanted.
The good and glorious truth is that like any good father, God doesn’t always give us what we want. But he always, always gives us what we need.
I needed humbling, and God was gracious to humble me through that difficult experience in ways that have changed me forever, for the better.
But that wasn’t the story now.
Sometimes desire is the most frightening thing. And I had desires for this birth.
I wanted a VBAC. Despite the heightened “high risk” monitoring that came with said VBAC, I wanted for things to go as smoothly and peacefully as possible. I wanted a kind and gentle nurse. I wanted my friend Jess to be able to be there, for my Mom to be able to take care of the kids. I wanted to be able to hold and snuggle my still-two-year old son when all was said and done, without the fear of the pain of a recent surgical incision.
I was afraid to ask, yet still I kept hearing Him whisper, “Ask me. Just ask.”
The book of Isaiah became supremely precious to me during the months leading up to my son’s arrival. As I read and wrestled with my unspoken prayers, I heard the LORD whispering directly to me in such a personal and tender way; “Forget the former things. See I am doing a new thing…No more could you forget your nursing child, than I could forget you. I have called you by name you are Mine. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you by my righteous right hand.”
And I realized that in the midst of my fears I was forgetting one other critically important truth about God. He loves to give good, lavish, undeserved gifts to his children.
In my heart, I felt what I had needed more that summer than anything. Peace. Rest. A pause for my world-weary soul. But I also knew that Isaiah was made for God’s glory, and that because of this I could rest in whatever kind of birth God provided for us, trusting the LORD’s goodness and sovereignty over Isaiah’s birth, just as I would need to trust it every day of his life.
At 4:50 am August 18th, I knew it was going to be the day. The pains kept me from sleeping any longer, so I got up and ate the only thing that sounded good for breakfast. Looking into the dark out the window above the kitchen sink, I slurped the juice of two perfect peaches.
I worked through contractions. I sipped exactly two sips of tea. I put on my favorite dress and brushed my teeth. Willy put the bags in the car and made sure we had the phone chargers and the car seat.
By 7 am we were headed to the hospital. The sun was coming up, warming the cooler late summer morning. The sky was clear and hopeful; a beautiful birth-day for my baby boy. We prayed and we wept tears of gratitude, and we asked God for what we wanted, but we opened up our hands to give him the day. The day he had made. I heard him whispering, “Today, I am writing a new story,” and my heart swelled with hope.
My friend Jess met us at the hospital as we had planned. We took our time getting upstairs. The hospital felt calm and collected at that hour in the morning. They showed us to our delivery room; one with a tub, but no window since that was the choice I had to make.
Our nurse came in shortly after; and here was answer to unspoken prayer #1: our nurse was sweet Brittany, who we had met a few short weeks before when we thought I may have been leaking fluid, but thankfully wasn’t.
Tears sprang to my eyes as I leaned on the birthing ball. “It’s Brittany! It’s Brittany!” I said.
When Brittany finished examining me she announced, “8cm and 100% effaced. I’m going to go call the doctor so she can make her way over here. And I’m going to call the nurses to get everything ready for the baby. He’s going to be here pretty soon!” She smiled at me.
In between contractions and sobs I spoke the words; “I’m just so happy. We get to meet our baby today!” But the work wasn’t done yet.
I labored. The doctor said his head was transverse, so I laid with the peanut ball for awhile, first one side. Then the other. Willy told me that my Mom was taking the kids to the park for lunch. I labored. I got to ten, but didn’t feel ready to push yet. I labored.
Finally after my doctor broke my water, I began to feel the urge to push. And thus began the hardest 1 hour and 17 minutes of the whole 10 hour labor.
I was at the end of my rope. The end of my strength. But I kept remembering what Eve said when she had delivered Cain, “with the help of God, I have delivered a man.” I begged Jesus to help me. And in my final pushes, when I didn’t have the strength, He did.
I did the really ugly cry then, my baby sticky and wailing in my arms at last. “THANK YOU JESUS!” I wept and kept saying, over and over again, “Thank you Jesus.”
When we were both a little more cleaned up and composed, they transferred me to the Women’s Care unit for recovery. And as Willy pushed me in a wheelchair by a wall of windows in the hospital hall, one of the nurses said casually, “Oh, it stopped raining.”
“IT WAS RAINING??” I said.
Of course. It was raining.
The name of our third child is Isaiah Selah; it means “YHWH is Salvation, pause and consider this.”
And in the one month we have spent loving him this side of the womb, his name could not be more apt. He is our pause. Our reminder to consider who it is that we worship. The great I Am, YHWH, is the God who gives good gifts. Sometimes they are the good gifts that come through trials and hardships. Those gifts feel hard to take, but they are part of what makes us who we are. They are the things that make us more like Jesus. They are the compost and manure that my soul needs to truly be fruitful. It is the cutting of my roots of self-reliance, so that I may grow better in the soil into which I have been planted.
But sometimes, He showers us with unexpected blessings. The blessings of prayers answered with a “yes…and even more abundantly than you can ask or imagine.” Like a Sabbath rain in the late summer heat. Like two delicious peaches off my very own peach tree. Like the most humbling and beautiful birth, for my beautiful baby boy.
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!