The story I’m about to tell you is real. The name hasn't been changed because there's no one to protect. Carly is a real person with real ambitions and a fantastic joy for life. You need to know that this is real because what she discovered can be life changing for you!
Christmas and New Years are times when I give my team a much-needed break. Although they would continue to serve if asked, I’m answerable for the rhythm and atmosphere my team works in (all leaders are). I’ve shard this in various ways in other posts and Micro Blogs. I’ll be sharing more about this in podcasts...yup, they're coming soon!
It was a cold, dark night, January 7, 2015 to be precise. We were in the third week of a long, holiday break from meeting with students. I was holding a special gathering for just a portion of the adult team when I got a text from a student. Carly is the kind of student who loves being with the adults and serving. She can’t get enough of what we do. When we take a break she sulks – in a good way - and I need to say that because I know she’s going to read this! Just tonight she asked me, “Why haven’t you written that blog you said you would quote me in?”. I love it! Yes, she sulks, and I'm honored that she does. I’m genuinely thrilled when students not only benefit from what we do but passionately desire to attend. What Carly wrote in her text was joy to my eyes. I share it with you here because she “got it” when it comes to Sabbath, even though she wasn't looking for "it".
Here’s a student, and there are others, who absolutely loves attending each week so much so that she also serves other students on two other nights! When someone who enjoys working that much realizes the magnificent joy and beauty of ceasing, it enlivens my soul.
A little background on why her text was so wonderful to read and why I believe she "got it". Nearly a year ago I took a sabbatical. The first month each week I went through different emotions. The first was disconnected calm. The second peace. The third emotional and physical anxiety. The fourth fogginess of thinking. It wasn't until the fifth week that I could truly breathe and felt at ease. The first month felt as if I was going through an emotional and spiritual detoxification - the same thing Carly felt. I've since learned that each week, when I Sabbath - cease all productive work - God takes me through an emotional and spiritual detox which, in turn, prepares me for the coming week. In the words of one Pastor, I've learned the beauty and joy of working from my rest rather than resting from my work.
God intends Sabbath to be a time for us to stop, rest, recuperate and relish in Him. I like the three “Rs”! Rest. Recuperate. Relish. I suppose you could use “Rejoice” for the final installment. Many people use “Delight”. I think Relish is a wonderfully fun word with precisely the meaning I intend. Buy I digress.
Over the past five months I’ve found what Carly found. Taking a break from our regular work is, in part, designed to make us enjoy that same work even more. Bravo, Carly! In my sharing about Sabbath with adults some think that it will instill laziness or unproductiveness. In truth, it actually stimulates us to engage our work more significantly. We not only honor God, we honor ourselves and how we're designed. I really do pray that many will understand this God-instilled concept about Sabbath sooner than later, like Carly has. Check out her followup text!
She found one of the profound truths about Sabbath. When we get our God-desired priorities straight we find renewed passion and new life!
It's been baffling to me as I've shared this with people how some are so resistant. Many are in a quandary as to how to incorporate Sabbath into their daily routine or weekly schedule. This go, go, go world has a strangle hold on our schedules. I sympathize with them. I was there and it nearly derailed me. But when you flat out rebuff it, I just scratch my head. It's not like it's an extrapolated idea, it's a command of God! Check out Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Hard to get around.
I’ve come to see this passage in John as closely related to Psalm 23. The pasture is symbolic of rest, recuperation and relishing in God and His creation. In Psalm 23 the writer uses green pastures and still waters as images of rest. What could be more calming than a pool of refreshing water, still and smooth like glass? This is Sabbath! And this is what Jesus came for! To set us free from the rat race, the proverbial hamster wheel. Why do we keep jumping back on?
Sometimes we have to be forced to see truth. It’s so close to us, so near our eyes that even the worst myopia won’t help us. I've seen God do this to me time and again. But I also know that self discovery is one of the most powerful ways we learn. Some things we must discover on our own.
I think Carly's texts speak loudly and clearly to what I’ve been trying to say. However, I'll continue to shout out the message of Sabbath to anyone willing to listen. Okay, even those who won't; I think it's that important. So, with that, I'll cease and let you enjoy the beauty and joy of realized truth. So, read the texts again, they're worth it!