I have been more intentionally listening to God and He has been faithful to provide me with some uncomfortable, but good, life-changing lessons. This week He has been teaching me about Sabbath.
It all started with last week's sermon. The sermon was entitled Sabbath & Simplicity, Part 1. I think it was one of the best sermons that I have ever heard our pastor preach, but it could also be that it was my heart and ears were cracked open a bit wider, to hear and really allow God's truth to penetrate my heart. Either way, the results have been powerful and hard.
I am not going to unpack the sermon. You can listen to it here, if you suspect that you aren't getting the deep rest and renewal God wants to give you. I am going to focus on the processing that happened to me because of what I heard.
I walked into church last week tired, exhausted, weary, and looking for rest. I had actually told Eric I didn't want to go, I wanted to stay home, alone and have some quiet time. But we rarely do that in our house, Sunday morning is about going to church and corporate worship, so I went. My spirit was ready to hear about our need for rest, for Sabbath, for renewal.
We were barely out of church and I was competing for my husband's ear. (Five of us in the mini-van and everyone wants to talk, some of us have more words than others, and it's challenging to have a conversation that moves beyond a sentence or two. Still, I tried.) We had lots planned, lunch, birthday party for a cousin, another birthday party for my mother, then tucking our babies into bed, so not a lot of more time for more talk about what we'd heard.
Finally about nine o'clock the house was quiet and I had time to do my "homework" assigned by my pastor.
- Read Psalm 46 aloud 3X.
- Focus on verse 10.
- Be still for 15 minutes.
- Ignore any jumping monkeys (refer to his sermon).
- Journal your reflections.
I don't know if our pastor expected us to walk away with anything specific. Maybe he did. But God gave me the clearest message for me.
As I sat in silence I expected to hear more about sabbath; I expected to hear more about rest. Instead I was brought back to this verse:
"God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day." Psalm 46:5
I was being told I needed to wake up earlier and that if I did He would sustain me. That's not what I wanted to hear, but it was what I was hearing. I needed to be up before the kids, when the sun came up, so that I could have some time with the Lord before time with the kids.
So, I finished my time of quiet and decided to go through my blog reader. The second email was a blog post about the value of time in the morning with You, before I spend time with any members of my family. Wonderful affirmation that I am hearing your voice. This is the post.
Throughout the week the Lord has been unpacking more and more. I truly struggle with the shear volume of work that is required to run a household, stay involved in the kids' classrooms, and sustain my church and para-ministry volunteer commitments. Good work, all of it. As I sat and prayed I was staring at some beautiful tulips that my mother-in-law brought me. (I love, love, love cut flowers but have never bought them for myself, because they seem frivolous, but I love receiving them.) I was struck at the simplicity of a flower's life. Their purpose is quite simple, to grow beautiful and make the world more lovely. As they sat on my table I realized that their life would soon come to an end, quickly, and they would die having lived out their purpose to the fullest.
For this brief moment I wondered how important the multitude of tasks I'd accomplished were. How much more meaningful would it be, even if I accomplished less tasks if every task I did undertake was done with a gracious, lovely, beautiful spirit instead of a hurried, efficient, precise manner? Then, when I died, wouldn't those looking on say with the same kind of certainty that I had accomplished my purpose in life?
This week I am coming towards the end of my sixth day of work. There are still many, many things on my to do list that I haven't even started. There is still more chaos in my household than makes me delighted. We have sustained some news that grieves our hearts very deeply and I have found myself crying out the sadness to leave room for the assurances that God is going to make lovely even the unlovely things. In many ways, my world looks strikingly similar to what it looked like last week at this time. But under the surface there is a calmness coming. It's just a little easier to ignore the jumping monkeys when I am having morning time with the Lord. And when I've allowed the Holy Spirit to take control of my day, the more it moves like the calm rhythm of lapping of waves, instead of the rapids of a quickly moving river.
"I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit's instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won't always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to." Galatians 5:16