The Sabbath is a Womb

LEAH FARISH|GUEST I once started a list with just the title, “What I accomplish on the Sabbath” —and those words lay on a big blank page. Actually, that captures most of my point.  At least in the world’s eyes, Sabbaths don’t accomplish very much, and I think that’s fine.  How did I get comfortable with such scandalous unproductiveness? In college I was dating a Christian who decided to “keep the Sabbath.”  What that meant to him was, no studying on Sunday.  I had a choice of either mirroring that schedule or being out of sync with him.  So I quit “working” on Sunday.  Eventually I fell out of love with the guy, but I fell in love with the Sabbath.  What won me over was this passage from Isaiah 58: “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word, Then you will take delight in the Lord, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth…." I was intrigued by the reward offered for keeping the Sabbath: that I would take delight in God.  I was tantalized at the idea of increasing my enjoyment of Him, and amazed that it could happen as a result of doing something—or rather, not doing things.  After all, the passage indicates as much “negative” obedience as positive action...

The Sabbath is a Womb2022-05-04T23:25:38+00:00

Investing & Resting: Tiny Investments of Covenant Faithfulness

RACHEL CRADDOCK|CONTRIBUTOR “You sow, and you sow, and you sow, and much later you will reap.” These words of life were spoken over me by an older friend of mine when I was a young mom to four children under five. The physical demands of rocking, holding, shushing, changing, and heavens to Betsy—the mealtime clean-up! There was never enough time to get all the spaghetti sauce off the baseboards nor pick every goldfish cracker up off of the floor. My friend’s words stuck with me; during the exhausting days of new motherhood, the image of sowing seeds coupled with the hope of reaping filled me with joy while I served the Lord in my home. Her words gave me the big, long, biblical picture of discipleship. God could use the seeds I was sowing with every wet wipe, every word of “Jesus Loves Me,” every ABC Bible Verse, and every sticky hand for His glory in the hearts of my children. I was sowing and making investments in the little disciples who filled up my lap. As a pastor’s wife, I have been alongside many different people in ministry: Sunday School students, youth group students, young adults, and women of all ages and stages. Just as in parenting my own children, my tiny gospel investments have been human, exhausting, and imperfect—many times I have not gotten to see the end of the story—but thinking biblically about sowing and the One who does the reaping has given me the freedom to invest and rest as a kingdom laborer. God uses the tiny investments of ordinary laborers not because of who they are, but because He is the Lord of the harvest. Discipleship is all about investing biblically and resting in the promises of a covenant-keeping God. He is faithful to His generational promise to redeem, deliver, and adopt the people He set apart before the fullness of time. In discipleship, whether you are alongside your own children or involved in the life of another Christ-follower, the tiniest gospel investments are perfected in the big, long, biblical picture of God’s covenant promises to an imperfect people. God is the covenant-keeping God. He takes the tiniest, imperfect investments of covenant faithfulness and brings them to completion by His grace and mercy. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). Resting in Covenant Promises My sinful heart is prone to wander to unrest, which causes weariness in the sowing. In the flesh I want to fix things, hurry God’s plan with my human helping, complete a task on a discipleship-program-year timeline, and see the end of the story wrapped in a bow and with a cherry on top. Like Abram and Sarai, I want to nudge along the redemption process and give God a little bit of my own help. Unrest is earthly behavior but developing a posture of rest is heavenly. Resting in God’s covenant promises is a spiritual discipline. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17). In this life as a Christ-follower, you will sow, and you will sow, and you will sow, but much later you will reap. Much, much, later...

Investing & Resting: Tiny Investments of Covenant Faithfulness2022-05-04T23:16:19+00:00

Rest for the Spiritually Weary

KATIE POLSKI|CONTRIBUTOR About seven years ago, I cleaned out my parent’s house, my childhood home. It took about a month to declutter, box up various belongings, and then fix, paint, and re-carpet the house to sell. Through the years, I’d heard folks talk about similar circumstances and the stress that accompanies this stage in life, and while I felt sympathy, I felt little empathy. Their exhausted faces connected only as a distant reality. But then at age 35, with three young kids in tow, it was no longer a future prospect. My father passed away, and my mother was incapacitated and needed a better environment for around the clock care. I don’t remember a more vexing time than this. On day one of cleaning out, I was savoring every fork and every dish towel. I wanted to find a home for everything. By day fourteen, I hated all the forks. I cried over letters I found from my father, poured over old pictures of less weighty days, and debated what items were valuable. Eventually, I threw away all the forks. When the “sold” sign was displayed in the front lawn and the last box taken to Goodwill, a friend called and said, “You need a vacation.” I was tired, yes, and a trip out of town seemed appropriate. But the kind of rest that accompanies a vacation wasn’t ultimately the kind of rest I needed. My soul longed for deep, spiritual rest. I spent months questioning the Lord’s plan, neglecting time in His Word, and suppressing frustration toward my simultaneous responsibilities as a daughter and a young mother. In short, I was spiritually weary. Reasons We Become Spiritually Weary Life’s burdens can be overwhelming, but they don’t automatically lead to spiritual weariness. Because of this, it’s important to acknowledge some of the reasons we get to this point. Neglect of Physical Rest - Jesus Himself physically rested on several occasions. He is fully God and fully man, yet without sin. So, when he fell asleep in a boat (Luke 8), and when He left the crowds to be alone to talk with His Father (Luke 5:16), Jesus was not doing anything wrong nor was He displaying weakness. The Creator did what was good and right to do. Jesus rested. Neglecting physical rest can too easily lead to spiritual weariness. We become so work obsessed that our computers stay open until late hours, and the hamster wheel becomes so routine, we begin to idolize our busyness. Physical rest is never a waste of time and neglecting it can leave us feeling spiritually dry...

Rest for the Spiritually Weary2022-05-04T23:16:40+00:00

Better than Balance: Finding Rest in Christ

AIMEE JOSEPH|GUEST As a science major, I spent my fair share of time in chemistry classes during college. I wish I could say that I draw heavily from my hours of past study in my present life in ministry and motherhood; however, outside of recognizing organic chemistry nomenclature in cleaning ingredient lists, that degree is gathering dust. The one lasting impression left on my life from years of chemistry is a deep desire for life to balance like an equation. As strange as it sounds, I loved stoichiometry. If you stared long enough and thought hard enough, you could find out exactly where everything belonged. It might have taken some trial and error, but chemical equations could be perfectly balanced. Unbeknownst to me, I have carried such a chemical approach into calendaring and life. I keep thinking that if I could simply buy the right calendar or rearrange the pieces of my life enough, I would find the balance our culture touts and trains us to find. Perhaps you are like me. Perhaps you are drawn to cute calendars and colored pens because you desperately want to achieve the perfect balance of work and rest. Unfortunately, life is not stoichiometry. Souls and sentient life are so much harder to pin down and arrange. When Balance Betrays Us Balance and efficiency, in and of themselves, are not wrong. In fact, we desire them because God ordered the world that we might have them. In fact, in the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2, we see a beautiful balance of work and rest. God gloriously created the earth and all it boasts. Then he stopped and savored the fullness of the fruits of his labor. Adam and Eve were invited into such a rhythm of careful, yet carefree work and rest. Just as God had balanced the earth on its axis, humanity experienced a God-enabled, God-created balance. When we betrayed our Creator, our balance betrayed us. Labor became laborious. Work became wearying (Genesis 3). Separated from our Master and our metronome, human hearts went haywire, as did the human approach to work and rest. Ever since then, we have sought to return to the life we left on our own strength and by our own devices...

Better than Balance: Finding Rest in Christ2022-05-04T23:16:50+00:00

Find Rest in Jesus Christ

The springtime months of 2020 were supposed to be busy. While all the events on my calendar were good things, still, it was packed to the brim, and I had little margin for rest. In fact, for the week following the Final Big Event chiseled into my planner, I had penciled in “Slip into a coma.” And then, a month before my anticipated collapse, the Lord wiped my calendar clean. My best-laid plans were scuttled in the onrush of a global pandemic. As it happens, a clear calendar and government-mandated quarantine do not guarantee a calm heart and mind. Inactivity does not equal rest. Days and weeks of inactivity may still be filled with the restlessness of worry and fear. A multitude of concerns, whether sparked by the virus or other circumstances, threaten to fill my days and keep me awake at night. The rest that I need—that we all need—cannot be found in settled plans, an empty calendar, or even the safety and well-being of my family. We need rest that doesn’t deny these very real concerns, but one that places them in more capable hands than our own. We need rest that entrusts ourselves and our loved ones to the God who made us and loves us and has planned for yesterday, this day, and all our tomorrows from before the beginning of the world...

Find Rest in Jesus Christ2022-05-05T00:38:08+00:00

Soul Rest in a Restless Time

As Covid-19 continues its march across our globe, through our land, into our homes, conforming our lives to its harsh realities, I’m learning where I choose to allow my mind to rest is the only place to find soul rest as well. In March when stay-@-home became the new reality, we received a letter referencing that popular phrase from a few years ago, What would Jesus do? The writer suggested changing it to, What is Jesus doing – in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Many good things were happening. Jesus was at work. Our governors made decisions to protect their citizens. Companies offered to retrofit their plants to manufacture ventilators and protective gear for our hospitals. Volunteers across America sewed masks. People bought groceries and ran errands for those at-risk. Caring and kindnesses were happening— and still are. The question morphed in my mind: What should I be doing? How can I help? In March, God led me to five answers, five ways to experience soul rest. As the restrictions of stay-@-home were relaxed (in Colorado, our governor is now saying safer-@-home), God continues to define how I think about my question. Now my answers, although similar, are not the same as in March...

Soul Rest in a Restless Time2022-05-05T00:40:32+00:00

Seeking Rest in the Time of Corona

I spend most of my life in a decade old minivan that has seen better days. The calendar is normally crammed-full of activities for my four children, ages 7-12, and we are constantly running from one thing to the next. At the end of the school day, I work to get everyone fed and off to baseball, soccer, dance, therapy, etc. (On the days I work as a substitute teacher at their school, the chaos only multiplies.) I often feel like one of those hamsters running around the wheel and getting nowhere. This was our reality until we were told to stay home. I know that we are not alone in having our lives turned upside down due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Our family is practicing social distancing, and almost overnight I have turned into a homeschool mom of four. Games and practices are cancelled. Our reality has rapidly changed. It’s like a record spinning around and around and someone takes the needle off, causing the music to come to a screeching halt. It’s quiet. I don’t mean volume wise—there are four extroverted children living here—but activity-wise, it is quiet. We don’t have anywhere to be and nothing on the to-do list but thick packets full of school-work. It’s an alternate reality. My head is less full of schedules, and to be honest, it’s been nice. My pastor-husband recorded a Facebook Live for our congregation asking us to consider a question that has resonated with my heart: How we can invest our time of social distancing instead of just biding our time? I have prayerfully considered how the Lord wants me to spend this time with Him. God has us in a season very different than our usual, so what can I learn from this time?..

Seeking Rest in the Time of Corona2022-05-05T00:53:40+00:00
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