R & R

The LORD is my shepherd . . . He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. —— Psalm 23:1,2 NIV 

When the kids were little and I was a stay-at-home mom, January was my R & R month. Just as the military gives its troops time for rest and relaxation to refresh them for the battles to come, I, too, found fighting life’s day-to-day battles left me with an I’m-so-tired-I-can’t-go-on feeling. Especially after the hectic holidays.

So after the decorations were put away, and the house returned somewhat back to normal, I decided I needed a vacation of sorts. I couldn’t afford to fly off to a warmer climate, and the frigid temperatures, blowing snow, and howling winds of a typical Northeast January made traveling anywhere but to town for groceries a battle in itself. So why not hole up and take the first month of the year to refresh my spirits and rejuvenate my energy?

I spent the time reading and working on a sewing or crocheting project. My family enjoyed homemade bread, cinnamon rolls made from scratch, and other goodies I usually didn’t have the time to make. When the kids had a snow day, we played board games and sipped hot chocolate topped with a healthy dollop of extra creamy whipped topping.

When February rolled around, I was ready to come out of my self-imposed hibernation and face the world.

Rest is important to body, mind, and spirit. That’s why God commands us “to remember the Sabbath day.” The Hebrew words for “Sabbath” means “cessation.” One day in seven was set aside for rest and worship. God Himself set the precedent when He ceased from His work of creating the universe and everything in it.

Nowadays it seems the world spins faster. Technology has increased the pace of life. We’re slaves to overcrowded schedules. We over-commit our time and overdo ourselves, but for what purpose?

More than ever, we need a Sabbath day, and, yes, even a Sabbath month or year, to recharge our spent energy, refocus our goals, redirect our steps, and renew stalled-out dreams. 

Thank You, God, for the renewal a Sabbath brings. Amen.  

Read and reflect on Psalm 23.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Image by Gary Cunliffe from Pixabay

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” – Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 11:29 (The Message)

This month marks the sixteenth anniversary of my sister’s death.

She was only 55. It was totally unexpected.

These things change you. Change the way you think about things. Change the way you live.

At the time I was teaching full time and writing part time for a local newspaper. With the youngest in college and the older two on their own, it was time to pursue those dreams I’d put on the back burner to raise a family.

While teaching was my passion, I wasn’t finding fulfillment in covering school board and county commissioners meetings and election results. And while I loved the camaraderie of the newsroom staff, getting up early Saturday mornings to drive 45 minutes in all kinds of weather to type obituaries wasn’t getting me any closer to my writing goals.

Of course I ignored the signs of dissatisfaction and pushed on. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

Then a post-operative blood clot took the life of my only sister just when we were getting close again. I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye.

I shivered on the love seat for days, in shock.

Change. It’s foisted on all of us. Whether we welcome it or not.

The key to surviving it is to look to God, knowing He has a plan and purpose for us (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:16), knowing He takes the rough draft of the chapters of our lives and revises them so they shine (Romans 8:28) and lead to the ending He has planned. And knowing that if we follow our Shepherd, we will arrive at that ending without burning ourselves out.

But I hadn’t been stopping long enough to listen to God.

My sister’s death was a wakeup call—to pause in my headlong rush to fulfill my dreams and be all things to all people, and determine where I was truly headed.

Davis Bunn, in his 40-day devotional “The Turning,” writes, “When we read, we give no notice to the spaces between the words. And yet those pauses are vital. Without them, there is nothing but a senseless jumble. With them, thoughts are unique, words are clear, ideas fashioned, lives transformed. So it is with the brief pauses we make to stop and listen. Our thoughts and actions take on new clarity.”

And so it was for me. If I were to die suddenly in my mid-fifties, I thought, would I have realized my dreams? Within a week, I resigned from the newspaper job.

I still get too busy, lose focus, and drift away from God’s path for me. It’s refreshing to pause, still the clamor of life, rest and recharge spent batteries.

“Are you tired? Worn out?” Jesus says. “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:28–29, The Message).

I’m a slow learner, Lord. I have to force myself to slow down. Sometimes my body, mind, and spirit are just too exhausted to push on. Remind me often to pause to reflect, rest, and recharge. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 23

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God. © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.