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Six Ways to Open the Gift of Rest

Do you know how to open the gift of rest? I’m guessing you’re real good at work and play, but don’t do “rest” real well.

We have busy lives, busy leisure, and an inner obligation to have perfect kids, perfect homes, be productive, and be successful.

Like the Chinese pictograph for “busy”—composed of two characters: heart and killing—our driven culture is destroying us. Not only is our culture of busyness killing us, but we feel guilty when we stop!

The gift of rest allows our souls to catch up

The story is told of a South American tribe that went on a long march, day after day, when all of a sudden they would stop walking, sit down to rest for a while, and then make camp for a couple of days before going any farther. They explained that they needed the time of rest so that their souls could catch up with them. –Wayne Muller in Sabbath, Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest

At creation, God worked six days, and then he stopped and rested. He instituted these same rest stops for us. They are to happen weekly. These rest stops are called Sabbath (see Exodus 20:8-11 and Deut. 5:12-15).

The word Sabbath literally means to “stop” or “cease.” We might call it our “Stop-day.” Sabbath is about stopping, resting, reflection, worship, and relationships. Sabbath gives us the opportunity to rest so that our souls can catch up with us.

Pausing is not the same as collapsing. Some people say, ‘I’ll do all my pausing at the end of the day, after the kids are in bed.’ That’s not hitting the brakes; that’s running out of gas. Both get you stopped, but only one is intentional. And only one will help you feel more rested and peaceful. –Keri Wyatt Kent in Breath: Creating Space for God

The gift of rest is one we refuse to open

Sabbath requires us to trust God. That’s hard, and we don’t like it.

Sabbath calls us to rest from providing and consuming; from performing and accomplishing. Why is stopping so hard to do? Why can’t we take one day a week to not be the provider, the problem solver, the fix-it person, the lord of our manor, and king of our hill?

Sabbath is not dependent upon our readiness to stop. We do not stop when we are finished. We do not stop when we complete our phone calls, finish our project, get through this stack of messages, or get out this report that is due tomorrow. We stop because it is time to stop . . . . Sabbath . . . liberates us from the need to be finished. – Wayne Muller in Sabbath, Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest

On this special day we are to rest, not work, and by so doing we acknowledge that Jesus Christ is our Lord, Provider, Counselor, King, and our All in All. We remember that he is God, and we are not.

Sabbath is a gift of rest from God to us that brings our lives back into perspective.

Whether we open that gift or not depends on us.

In The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan reminds us that when we practice Sabbath, we are denying ourselves to save ourselves:

What we deny ourselves is all our well-trained impulses to get and to spend and to make and to master. We do this maybe for no higher reason at first than that God told us to do it . . . . The law of Sabbath is not legalistic. It is a command given to save us from ourselves.

Six ways to open the gift of rest

1.  Clear your schedule and create space for Sabbath.

Henri Nouwen writes that a spiritual discipline is simply creating some space in our lives in which God can act. So the first part of Sabbath as a spiritual discipline is simply to create the space for it—to clear our schedules.  –Keri Wyatt Kent in Rest, Living in Sabbath Simplicity

2.  Start where you are and keep it simple. Don’t try to change everything at once.

3.  Plan ahead. Try to do the housework and chores during the other days of the week so you don’t have to do it on Sabbath. Plan simple meals with family and friends—Sabbath is all about community.

4.  Establish some rituals: Plan a special breakfast or lunch, attend church, take a nap, call your mother, read a good book, keep a box of “Sabbath toys” that are only brought out on that day, join with friends for a meal or a game, or read a passage of Scripture at meal time together.

Rituals may seem like things we ‘have to’ do, but they are simply ways of arranging and organizing our lives. They’re regular practices. I recently realized that the word ritual is embedded in the word spiritual: spiritual. –Keri Wyatt Kent in Rest, Living in Sabbath Simplicity

5.  Rest! Just as God rested on the seventh day, so we are to rest. Reject the compelling urge to do instead of be. In this way, Sabbath becomes your sanctuary in time.

6.  Connect with God. Worship, pray, read your Bible, join in ministry at church, or take a quiet walk in the park.

Comments? How would honoring the Sabbath bring you closer to the Lord and to those who matter most to you? What can you do this next week to plan a Stop-day that is set-apart from the rest of the week? Is practicing Sabbath part of the spiritual legacy you are modeling for others?

Have a great weekend and enjoy your Stop-day, Susan.

“Jesus likes it when we share.” -Adelaide, age 3: Pass this along to everybody and their brother. OK, maybe not everybody’s brother, but you know . . . all of your friends would be nice.

Related posts:

How to Take a Break From Managing the Universe

How to Harvest Time

I enjoyed Krista Dalton’s post on Welcoming Sabbath: A Christian’s Experience with Lecha Dodi. I think you will too.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

    1. Susan

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Erika. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. Kathie Mell

    I love LOVE LOVE this article!!! I just read it for the second time. And plan to read it again!!!
    Thank you Thank you Thank you, Susan!!! I need to meditate on these words.
    Love & Blessings on you!!!

    1. Susan Gaddis

      Awesome, Kathie. That warms my heart. I think Sabbath is often hard to grab onto in our culture. We’re going against the grain. But that’s part of what we do, right… God’s way is often different. 🙂

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