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

Boundaries and Balance, Part 2: Sabbath Margins

 

 

I don’t do this often enough–take an afternoon through the week to pause my work button and enjoy a baseball game on a beautiful summer afternoon.

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” –Jesus, as quoted in Mark 2:27 NIV

What image comes to mind when you hear the word “Sabbath”?

A day of rest and relaxation? A day to restore spent batteries? A day to finally schedule those fun activities you don’t have time for the rest of the week? A day to worship God? A nice, long, delicious Sunday afternoon nap? Parking it before the television to watch the game? Or a day to catch up with all the work you couldn’t fit into Monday through Saturday?

For me, Sabbath meant a day of rest, and that, traditionally, was Sunday. And only Sunday.

So when I read Priscilla Shirer’s view of Sabbath in her Bible study Breathe, her words stopped me in my Sabbath tracks: “God always and eternally intended Sabbath to be a lifestyle—an attitude, a perspective, an orientation for living that enables us to govern our lives and steer clear of bondage.” (emphasis mine)

What bondage? I live in a free country. That makes me free, right?

Wrong. There are many things that can enslave me.

Like to-do lists. I cram too many “must-do” items in my daily schedule then feel like a big, fat failure when I don’t accomplish everything on the list.

“How can I get everything done on my to-do list?” I once lamented.

“Put less on your list,” someone answered.

I wish I would’ve heeded that advice when it was given to me. Instead I developed a daily and weekly schedule using an Excel spreadsheet. To which I am a slave.

Oh, I get such pleasure in crossing items off! So much so that I’ll remember something that needs done that isn’t on the list, do it, then add it to the list so I can cross it off. That’s pretty pathetic.

We become dependent on that to which we are addicted. I depended on crossing off items on the list to make me feel good about myself, to feel productive, perhaps to give my life meaning. But all I was doing was spinning my wheels and burning myself out. No wonder I felt overwhelmed, plumbed out, ready to quit the ministries to which God called me.

I needed rest, but, more important, I needed to examine my unrealistic lists and schedules and determine, prayerfully, what to cut and what to keep.

And I needed to set what Priscilla calls Sabbath margins around what remained—establish boundaries so I can have time for Shabbat. Boundaries, remember, aren’t burdens, but gifts.

Shabbat comes from a Hebrew word that means to cease, to stop, to rest—verbs that require decisive action.

A day on the Glendale Lake with our daughter, her boys, and our youngest son was just the Shabbat I needed at the end of July.

God created Sabbath on the seventh day to give the rest of what He created balance. A life without Sabbath, without rest, is out of balance. Sabbath is not an option but an integral part of life. A lifestyle, not a day.

I’m still wrapping my mind around Sabbath being a lifestyle.

As I examine my schedule and place margins around those activities I choose to keep, I’m beginning to understand that Sabbath is not just Sunday but every day of the week.

Where do you need to put Sabbath margins?

Father, I pray for guidance, wisdom, and discernment as I continue to follow Your lead of establishing Sabbath margins in my life so that nothing holds me captive but You. Amen.

Day trips are one our favorite ways to spend the Sabbath–guaranteed to keep me away from those vicious to-do lists. Dean and I took a day trip last Sunday afternoon to the Sherman Lighthouse in Tionesta, Pa.

Oh, we have so much fun taking selfies!

NOTE: Next week, we’ll continue the series “Boundaries and Balance” by examining other-people boundaries.

Read and meditate on Genesis 2:1–3; Exodus 20:8–11

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.