After a long hard winter, I look forward to spring’s renewal. In my garden as I prepare for the growing season, I must remove old plants, turn over the mulch and prune new growth to prepare for the new life that will flourish.S
Without taking time for renewal our lives can feel overgrown and wild. Our days can become full of business, worry, self-satisfaction and feel emotionally empty. Scripture reminds us, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” (Psalm 127:2). Sabbath time for renewal is essential for us to live into being the leader, coworker and friend God has called us to be.
Sabbath renewal is a priority, as God rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:3). Did God rest because God was totally exhausted? I don’t think so! On the seventh day God modeled for all of creation what rest looked like and called this rest “blessed” and “holy.” If God deemed rest and renewal essential, how important is it for you?
Keeping the Sabbath holy is one of the Ten Commandments given to the Israelites. The Sabbath was to be a sign between God and God’s people (Exodus 31:13-14). No longer slaves in Egypt, the Israelites had the freedom to use their time for their own purposes. One of those purposes was “complete rest.” Do you regularly schedule time for rest and renewal?
As we engage in rest and renewal we should remember that a full restoration of the soul comes from outside of ourselves. Psalm 23:3 teaches that it is the Great Shepherd who restores our soul. Isn’t it a gift, that when you feel completely depleted, you are not expected to restore our own soul? It is Jesus who asks us, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest” (Matthew 11: 28-29). When we have served our families and church to the point of exhaustion, when our faith has been tried by the latest natural disaster, when we feel unable to make one more decision, it is Christ and not us who is the restorer of our souls.
Here are a few ways I embrace rest and renewal.
- Renew Your Mind: Meditate. Embrace Silence. Take a Social Media Sabbath. Read a book just for fun. Visit a museum.
- Renew Your Body: Breath. Sleep. Exercise. Go outdoors. Fuel your body well. Sing. Dance. Embrace music.
- Renew Your Soul: Invest in key relationships. Pray. Laugh. Listen. Read a devotional. Engage in spiritual direction. Attend a worship service you are not leading.
What practices renew you? In this and every season of your life, I invite you to take time for rest and renewal. While I am sure you need it, and those around you would attest to you needing it, God created you in a way that requires it.
So, what next step will you take to provide for a sustained spirit that will bring you through your next growing season?
Prayer: Jesus, restorer of my soul, may I think not so highly of myself that I fail to stop and spend time with you. Lead me in carving out time for Sabbath to renew my mind, body and soul. Not with the intention that I may do more, but so that I may be more for you. I humbly ask this in your name. Amen.