Restful

October 5, 2011

Right now I have three whole hours where I don’t need to be in class or writing a lesson or in a car or in a library. (Let’s also pretend that there’s no homework to be done and no working out I should be doing. Let’s live in this sweet, little fantasy just for a few moments.) The sun is shining, there’s a nice breeze, the house is quiet, and I’m drinking a protein shake with fresh raspberries and almond milk. Restful. This is a word I don’t use often, but it is how I feel right now.

We have a mentoring program at Denver Seminary, and it requires me to make a character contract each semester. This past summer I felt stressed all of the time. I had a lot to get done, and it worried me. So this fall, I am supposed to be working on rest. I am trying to remember that it’s God’s strength that gets me through. I am attempting time each week to take a Sabbath. God took one. He told us to remember to take one in the 10 commandments. In fact, we are supposed to keep that day holy. Am I ever that intentional about a Sabbath rest? Never. But it seems very important to God; it should probably be important to me.

I heard a speaker the other day who was talking about God’s creation. He talked about the beauty and care God took in creating the world the way he did. He showed us how trees are a constant theme in the Bible — some provided knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2), we are to be like trees planted by the water (Psalm 1), Christ died in our place on a tree (Mark 15), and in the end, the leaves of the tree of life will heal the nations (Revelation 22). He talked about Job — when God finally responds to Job it is fascinating. God goes on and on about animals, the seas, the storms, the constellations. He talks with pride about his creation.

The speaker then went on to talk about the Sabbath. God commanded us to rest, to remember, to make the time holy. When we stop, as God stopped, we have a moment to notice what God has done. To notice his creation, his great works, the beauty he provided. Our God is a very creative artist, but in our nonstop world, we don’t often notice it.

In her book Mudhouse Sabbath, Lauren Winner talks about things she used to do as a Jew before she became a Christian. Sabbath was her favorite — it was not a burden or a chore — it was a time of peace and noticing God’s grace. She writes about a friend who was explaining the Sabbath to a Gentile who was a bit annoyed by all the Sabbath practices — they seemed tedious and ritualistic. “Does God care if I microwave a frozen dinner on a Friday night?” she asked. The friend responded: “What happens when we stop working and controlling nature? When we don’t operate machines or pick flowers or pluck fish from the sea? … When we cease interfering in the world we are acknowledging that it’s God’s world.”

That is what I think Sabbath can do. It shows me that my stress and my worrying and my fretting are me trying to control God’s world. His plans and purposes will prevail, whether I get good grades or turn everything in on time or make enough money. God is in control.

So I think we should rest. If nothing else, we should consider it because God commanded it. And in that obedience, I think we might find that we’ll better remember that God is in control. Our God provided time for us to stop, to rest, to recharge, to recognize his holiness. He did it for us because he loves us that much. I think it’s pretty awesome.

Shalom.

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