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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sabbath Thoughts...

It’s funny how easy it is to miss resting—even when I have ‘down time’.  It seems that my mind is often constantly busy with different ministry things, interpersonal things, things that need to get done for ministry events and the dojo, things that need done at home or in my life in general, and more besides….  Often even when I am doing things that could be restful, my mind is pretty occupied.  It’s not like it is necessarily stressful—in fact, most of the time I enjoy the things I am doing and the things that I am thinking about.  It is just very different from truly stopping—and truly resting.

When I truly stop and rest, I do not think about anything that I need to do or let there even be a tentative schedule in my head.  I treat it much as I did when I was a young kid and had an evening free—I did not think through what I had left to do on ‘back burner’; I did not worry about tomorrow or what needed done tomorrow; I did not even worry about things that I could do or ‘should’ do that day.  I just rested and enjoyed the moment—savoring all of the little things around me and enjoying them.

Tonight, as I rested in my living room, different things would stick out to me.  The old couch that I was resting on is definitely part of a bachelor pad with four guys living in it; it is old and not super ‘stylish’, but when I stop it is fascinating to look at.  It has designs of farmhouses, waterwheels, and leaves in it along with certain fibers that make parts appear shiny…  It must have been a fine achievement for the artist, designers, and workers who built it in its original day.  The padding that is heavily worn still works and makes it comfortable to lie on as warm air from the heater blows over my feet.  There are actually so many interesting little things in my house, all designed to please the person who is using them or looking at them that I rush past or use without noticing during my daily rush to ‘do things.’  I miss the intricate carvings in the end-table made to wow guests, the artistry and design that went into the guitar poster on the wall, the work that had to go into crafting and finishing all of the wood in the house for it to look good for those who lived there…  There is so much that is literally fashioned expressly to be appreciated that I just don’t take the time to stop and appreciate because of my pace of life.  Making the time to stop and appreciate and enjoy all of these things at least once a week (on my Sabbath) actually helps me be more thankful to God and His providence.  What crazy things!  I have clothes that are comfortable, food that is chilled but hat I can heat, water that I can flavor as tea or chocolate or any number of other things.  In my house I have cheeses, crustaceans, and canned vegetables—a tremendous variety of food to choose from.  Our society has given us so many little pleasures that I almost never TRULY stop and notice when I am ‘rushing’…  Stopping and appreciating them fully as I partake in them (while resting) is good medicine for me—emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  It adjusts my speed and my attitude and makes me look at things through a different lens and perspective; it is a lens and perspective that is at once more natural to me, and also something almost foreign because I usually don’t take time to operate in this mode.  What an interesting thing, rest is.  What an important part of life…

It is odd, but resting is actually a lot of work for me, at first.  My mind doesn’t want to shut down, my sense of urgency and pace wants me to use this ‘free time’ to ‘catch up’ on several little tasks so that I can rest more easily by not having to remember to get them done—but if I do that I will ultimately never truly slow down into rest…  I often have to pray and ask God to help me to let go of things into His hands (which I need to do anyway), because by focusing on ‘letting go’ I continue ‘focusing’ and don’t actually let go.  Once there, I have to just let rest happen naturally and naturally start appreciating all of the cool little things around me.  It’s not that I just lay there like a bump for hours on end necessarily; rather, whatever I do once my mind is in ‘rest mode’, I try to do appreciating every part of it and being thankful for every part of it—listening to my coffee machine percolate and being amazed by how good the coffee smells and tastes and how warm it is in the mug in my hands, enjoying the texture and flavor of cheddar cheese as I have a small afternoon snack, enjoying the comforts that allow me to read my book or rest with my girlfriend, thanking God for the Kansas wind and brisk air and all of the life around me when I am outside…  It varies, but the part that is the same to me is that when I truly STOP, then I can truly start resting, listening to God, and letting God refill me—which I desperately need.

I hope and pray during this busy Christmas season that we can all force in the time to genuinely rest as God commanded in the Old Testament—and that we continue to stop and rest throughout the year.  Though it is increasingly hard in our society, I think we need to rediscover and re-initiate the lifestyle of healthy balance and include genuine rest.  Without it, I think that we lose much of the beauty, joy, and perspective that God intends for us…

Thank God for another good Sabbath.  :)

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