R & R

Acadia National Park, 2013 (c) 2013 Michele Huey All rights reserved.
Acadia National Park (c) 2013 Michele Huey All rights reserved.

 

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 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 overcommit our time and overdo ourselves, but for what purpose?

January is almost over, and I’ve spent most of it taking myself on a guilt trip because I haven’t done what I’d planned to do on my projects. Perhaps my R & R has been calling to me, and I’ve been resisting.

Since I preach every Sunday, that day for me is a workday. Instead of choosing another day for my Sabbath, I work through an ambitious to-do list every day of the week, then wonder why I’m always feeling so tired.

God ordained the Sabbath (Genesis 2:2–3), and His Son reminded us that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). This is a day God purposed for our benefit, to restore us physically, mentally, and spiritually—and to give balance to our lives.

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 meditate on Psalm 23

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

A Story of Renewal

Rose Hill Mansion, Hilton Head Island, SC
Rose Hill Mansion, Hilton Head Island, SC

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. —2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

One of the places we visited while on our week-long getaway to Hilton Head Island last month was Rose Hill Mansion.

Now, I realize all these Southern plantations come with a history, but Rose Hill’s fascinated me.

Construction on the mansion began in the 1850s as a wedding present from a wealthy physician and planter and his wife to their daughter. When the Civil War broke out, work came to a standstill. How the place was spared from being burned to the ground by Union soldiers is still somewhat of a mystery. One story is that its structure resembled a church, and the enemy couldn’t bring themselves to destroy such a beautiful building.

After the Civil War, the property changed hands a number of times, and work on the interior wasn’t completed until 1946, when its new owners “finished it in grand style”—nearly 100 years after construction first began. For many of those years, though, the house stood empty.

In 1987 a devastating fire destroyed much of the mansion. For nearly a decade it sat—alone, abandoned, desolate, defenseless against heat and cold, sun and storm—until 1996, when a young couple visited the house and saw beyond the ruins. They purchased the property and began a decade-long restoration of the mansion. They worked hard to restore it to its former glory and use as much of the original designs and materials as they could. Today they live in the restored mansion, and tours are given daily, although only the ground floors.

The history of that mansion could be each of our personal histories. We, too, start out with lofty dreams and high hopes. God has a unique blueprint drawn for each of us. His plans are grand.

Then life interrupts. Perhaps we rebel against the God who created us with such love and promise and decide we want to follow our own blueprint and not the Master Builder’s. Perhaps life beats us down, and we’re left a burned-out shell of what could have been. Our faith has been shattered, our hopes dried up, our dreams reduced to rubble, exposed to the merciless elements of the world.

Then someone comes along who sees beyond the devastation, who sees potential in the ruins. And offers us something we never thought possible: renewal.

Actually, that Someone was there all along. We just didn’t see Him. We didn’t recognize Him. Pain and bitterness blind us to the good things that remain.

And He doesn’t just offer restoration. You see, to restore something is to return it to its former condition.

God doesn’t want to restore us to our former condition, no matter how good we think it was. No, He wants to make us new. Brand new. With a new beginning, a new heart, a new mind, a new perspective, a new attitude.

Springtime is the time nature renews itself. Notice I didn’t say “restore.” You see, all the leaves and flowers and vegetation that died last fall don’t return. New leaves and flowers sprout.

So it is with each one who says yes to God: “When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 TLB)

Father, thank You that we don’t have to sit alone, abandoned, desolate, without hope. Thank You for sending Your Son to give us new life. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on John 3:1–21

NOTE: For more of Rose Hill Mansion’s history (and some fascinating photos), visit their website at www.rosehillmansion.com


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