by: Embrace Church
Each week, as a local group of people who are trying to fulfill the Great Commission in the spirit of the Greatest Commandment, we meet in order to encourage each other, challenge each other, and push each other to be on mission together. Part of that process involves the study of scripture and application to our lives. This includes teaching, asking difficult questions, and giving space for everyone’s answers. We believe that circles are better than rows. But not everything that is prepared for this time of teaching and discussion makes it to Sunday evening. Here are some additional thoughts from Sunday’s time together. We hope and pray you find these additional thoughts compelling, challenging, and encouraging to your faith.
This past summer, my family and I had the opportunity to go to New York City with our daughter’s dance school. It was such a blessing to be able to go. We worked hard to save and we were blessed by others who wanted to help Olivia make it to this unique opportunity. So, at the end of July, we headed off to the Big Apple. We stayed in Times Square and walked almost everywhere we went. Most days, we walked over 10 miles. It was a great time together as a family. We intended to go on vacation. It was meant to be a time to rest, reflect, make some memories, and take time off. Most of that happened. We made some great memories. We took some time off. We spent time reflecting. Rest did not happen! Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad we went. If I had the chance to do it over, I would still go. I’m thankful for the time we had as a family away from the distractions and worries back home. But restful it was not!
Have you ever gone on vacation only to come home and find that you need a vacation from the vacation that you just took? Or maybe going on vacation only adds stress to your life because you know that you have to work twice as hard to catch up on the work that you missed while you were supposed to be on vacation? So instead of resting on your vacation, you spend your time stressing about all the work you will have to get done. It almost feels like your vacation is more of a punishment!
Rest is something, as a society, we seem to struggle with. I believe that may be changing some. The idea of self-care is coming into the forefront of acceptable ways to spend your time more and more. This is great news! Taking time to care for ourselves is an important part of positive mental health, and thus positive physical health as well. But I wonder if we are going far enough. I wonder if we have only taken one step in the right direction, and just maybe getting back to where we were supposed to be the whole time is where we should be heading.
At the beginning of everything, God created it all. We firmly believe that. In the creation account, it ends with this beautiful verse:
“On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” Gen 2:2-3
This begins our understanding of Sabbath. The idea that it is not good to work all of the time. Now, we also believe that God is omnipotent, or all-powerful. If that’s true, did God need rest? Of course not. So why did God rest? Why did God create a Sabbath rest? I believe we find that in this short verse from Jesus.
“Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
We see that God rested to
give us an example to follow. Rest, real
rest, self-care, whatever you want to call it, is so vital to our well-being
that God, in His infinite wisdom, knew we needed to rest. Daylong rest.
Not just the 6 hours of sleep we get on average. God knew we would need time to stop working
and get rest. He gave us Sabbath as a gift
and command. Taking Sabbath requires us
to manage our time in a way that honors God over everything else. The reward for doing so isn’t just the
knowledge of doing what’s right. It is
better slumber, better relationships, better health, better work, and a better
life. When we prioritize
_________ (work, people, sports, family, even going to a church service) over
God's command to rest we are choosing to make that thing our god. Self-care and
soul-care may be trendy, but they are not new. God knew what we needed long
before we did.
When people feel distant from God, I often encourage them to begin one spiritual discipline, one behavior they can begin now to draw them into a relationship with God. Maybe the thing for you to begin is taking a Sabbath. Maybe the thing you need to surrender to God is your calendar. If that’s you, first will you do us the honor of letting us know by filling out this form so we can be praying for you? Your information will be kept totally confidential. Second, check out some of these resources from our denomination!
Know that whoever you are, wherever you are, you have been prayed for, you are loved, and we are fighting for you.
For the Kingdom and City,