I know exactly when my daughter needs a nap. She switches from her usual lovely self to an angry/fussy version that if I’m honest, isn’t my favorite. Every noise sounds both sad and angry. She simply needs some rest. She ate, played, and her little body has to refuel before she can make it through the next portion of the day. It feels like she’s the only person on the planet who doesn’t realize that tired = I need to sleep. She FIGHTS sleep during the day. She could medal in trying to keep her eyes open. As her mom it can feel so frustrating to know that the one thing she really needs is the one thing she doesn’t seem to want.
We are approaching a time of year when busyness is prized. We sleep less, fill our calendars with more, and then wonder why we end up exhausted, irritable, and distracted on Christmas Eve. The challenge for today is to make rest a priority, and I don’t just mean sleep.
If I want to keep my heart tuned to sing of grace, I have to listen to the words of Jesus when He calls.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31, NIV)
“If you are caught, as I was, in the barrenness of a too-busy life, look to Jesus. The gospels reveal Him as a man who had learned the importance of saying no. The were times when He said no to the demands and requests made of Him, times when He said no to the crowd and got away to be alone with His disciples, times when He left the disciples to be alone with His Father.” -Colleen Townsend Evans
Step #4. Rest.
Our physical bodies definitely need rest and sleep, but our spiritual lives need just as much rejuvination. There’s a reason God commanded us to rest on the Sabbath.
The temptation can be to utilize the weekend or days off with the items that keep getting pushed down our to-do lists. We find an open Saturday or Sunday and quickly begin to fill them with lots of good things while God has the BEST thing for us: REST. On my trip to Israel last spring I began to view Sabbath in a whole new light. It wasn’t a rule to follow, but a GIFT from God. He wants us to rest from work because we need it!
“God presents the Sabbath rest as a shelter we can enter.” ― Charles R. Swindoll.
I don’t know what Sabbath will look like for you, but I know that God would not command something without an important reason. I started my own routine for Sabbath when I was working at a summer camp. In order to be refreshed for the whole week, I spent a portion of it reading, a portion of one-on-one time with a friend or family member, and a portion worshipping with a body of believers. I knew not to schedule much, but to train myself that just “be-ing” was necessary to keep my spirit at rest.
Some ideas for your Sabbath:
1. Cyberless Sundays
2. Screen-free weekends
3. Cook ahead and just reheat leftovers
4. Family picnic
5. Spend the day outdoors
7. Attending a Worship Service
8. Sharing a meal with friends or family
9. Reading the Word out loud at the table before and after meals
10. Worship CD on in the house or car
11. Take a prayer walk
12. Refraining from shopping
13. Going through old photos and remembering God’s faithfulness together
14. Rest from worry!
15. Avoid homework/paying bills/and stress-inducing tasks
16. Learn the Shabbat prayer and why it is so important to the Jews.
17. Light candles.
18. Start small if necessary and build up: 5 hours, then 6, then eventually a full day!
19. Create a Sabbath box and place distracting items in the box for the duration.
20. Save stressful conversations for another day.
It is important to note: practicing rest or Sabbath when you “feel like it” does not make the experience more authentic. It’s so important to be intentional with our rest. Make rest part of your weekly rhythm. The gift of Sabbath will tune our hearts to sing God’s grace more freely!
“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”
May your rest be deep and nourishing to your soul!
To catch up on the rest of the series:
Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude