Monday, January 26, 2009
Need Some "Rest"? Read This!
Church. Football. Soccer. Throw in a birthday party. Or maybe a recital. How about a committee meeting? Or even a little work? And then off to church again. For many people, that’s a typical Sunday.
Are your Saturdays any better? Do you have any day in the week that you feel is different from the rest? A day to truly unwind from the busyness of your life?
If you answered “no” to any of those three questions, you need to read Keri Wyatt Kent’s latest book, “Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity.” Keri encourages anyone with a too-busy lifestyle to slow down, take a look at your life, and try doing it God’s way.
Keri doesn’t suggest a legalistic, do-nothing-on-Sunday approach. She encourages her readers to search their hearts, search Scripture, and then decide with God what needs to change.
In light of this post that I wrote last week, I found it interesting to read the following in Keri’s book: “Maybe you are lonely: you believe people who care are scarce. But a scarcity mindset never brings us closer to God’s abundance. Maybe that’s why you keep yourself so busy and why you never rest. Because rest would feel lonely. Which is exactly why rest is so important. In resting, you experience the abundant grace of God, a lavish gift never earned, only received. His presence relieves our soul loneliness in a way that no one and no thing ever could.”
In a recent interview, Keri said this:
What is Sabbath, and what is its purpose? What do you mean by Sabbath Simplicity?
Sabbath, first and foremost, is a gift from our loving God. He invites us to take a day to rest from our labor, so that we might engage in relationship with him and with others. Its purpose is to refresh us physically and spiritually, to celebrate our freedom, to draw us close to God, and yet to remind us that we are not God.
God commanded us to Sabbath, to stop. But Sabbath-keeping is also a spiritual practice or discipline. All disciplines, (like prayer, solitude, etc.) create some space for God in our lives. Just as we have a lot of latitude in other practices (we can pray any number of ways, for example), we have freedom in how we practice Sabbath. My book offers a lot of ideas, and real-life examples, of how to approach this life-giving practice.
Sabbath Simplicity is a sanely-paced, God-focused life. It’s a lifestyle that includes the practice of Sabbath-keeping, but goes beyond just taking a day off. IN a way, it’s living out what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 6:33: See first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Sabbath Simplicity seeks God first.
What are some simple steps anyone can take to seek Sabbath Simplicity in their own lives?
The first step is to assess the current pace of your life—what activities have you and the people you live with said yes too. How hurried are you? You can’t figure out your next step, really, until you know where you are starting from. You may have to get very concrete and write down your schedule and look at it. Because your activity level during the week is going to affect your Sabbath.
Second, choose a day that you will keep Sabbath. I recommend Saturday or Sunday, and go from sunset to sunset. The Old Testament Sabbath was from sunset on the 6th day of the week to sunset on the 7th day—although as I explain in detail in the book, their ancient calendars were different from ours.
Third, choose one thing to refrain from, one thing to engage in. For example, refrain from housework or running errands, and engage in reading a spiritually challenging book, or playing with your kids. Start with small steps, and think about building your Sabbath Simplicity life a little at a time, gradually. After a few weeks, add another thing you will refrain from, and another thing you’ll engage in. Pray and listen, let God shape your Sabbath practice. Make your relationship with him the focus. Allow yourself flexibility.
Didn’t Jesus set us free from the law? If so, do we even have to practice Sabbath at all? What did Jesus say about the Sabbath?
By that argument, it would be okay to kill or commit adultery, because we are free from the law. What Jesus set us free from is being saved or in right relationship with God through the law. We’re saved by grace, not by law keeping.
So we won’t be saved by Sabbath-keeping, but it is still how God invites us to live.
Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for people. If God makes something for you, it’s a gift. He said it was not about the rules, but relationship. It’s a spiritual practice that brings us close to God.
Think you need this book? Leave me a comment by Wednesday (along with an email address so I can get in touch with you) and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll let you know on Thursday who the lucky winner is.