I’ve been reading and pondering a couple of books about stress reduction and rest recently. Even though I cherish quiet time, I need frequent reminders of how important it is to schedule in time for real rest, since it’s easy to feel that I should be using as much of my time as possible productively, like many of the people around me. Stephen mostly works from home, but once a week he goes to his office, so that I can have a quiet day at home alone. Ideally I spend these days reading, resting, sketching, walking, praying, and so on. Sometimes, though, I find myself catching up on emails and other correspondence, doing several loads of laundry, cleaning, and so on.
Both of the books I’m reading emphasize the importance of evaluating priorities and living intentionally. I’m finding the book on rest, Sabbath, by Wayne Muller, particularly interesting and helpful, as he talks about developing a rhythm in our lives that includes putting a priority on rest and relationship. He discusses the way our society tends to value money over time and how that can impoverish us personally, relationally, and spiritually. This month I am focusing on establishing some helpful daily and weekly patterns or rhythms for myself, and this week I want to focus on the idea of Sabbath rest, especially thinking of it as a gift of rest and relationship, rather than as an onerous restriction.
No working on the Sabbath; keep it holy just as God, your God, commanded you. Work six days, doing everything you have to do, but the seventh day is a Sabbath, a Rest Day—no work: not you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maid, your ox, your donkey (or any of your animals), and not even the foreigner visiting your town. That way your servants and maids will get the same rest as you. Don’t ever forget that you were slaves in Egypt and God, your God, got you out of there in a powerful show of strength. That’s why God, your God, commands you to observe the day of Sabbath rest.
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 The Message
Monday: Set aside some time as holy (which means “set apart”), a time for resting from work and for communion with God.
Tuesday: Thank God that he values us and our presence with him and not just the work we do.
Wednesday: Ask God to help you slow down to rest your mind and body and to nurture your relationship with him.
Thursday: How can you encourage the people in your life to set aside their work at times so they can rest. Ask if there’s some way you can help or affirm them in doing so.
Friday: Think back on what God has freed you from. Meditate on the amazing thought that God has freed you to be in relationship with him!
Saturday: Enjoy your time with God today. Read, pray, laugh, sing, or walk with him, and praise him for his redeeming love.