On Sabbath

 

I recently read ‘The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath’ by Mark Buchanan. I underlined so many passages in my Kindle, then copied out some of the most thought-provoking in my journal and now I’m typing a few up again here on the blog. Third times a charm, or something – certainly I need to remember these words over and over again as I seek some more Sabbath in my  week.

So here they are – all words by Mark Buchanan:

“In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply. ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Some knowing is never pursued, only received. And for that you need to be still.”

“Sabbath imparts the rest of God – actual physical, mental, spiritual rest, but also the rest of God – the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness.”

“The root idea of Sabbath is simple as rain falling, basic as breathing. It’s that all living things – and many unliving things too – thrive only by an ample measure of stillness.”

“Sabbath-keeping requires two orientatons. One is Godward. The other is timeward. To keep Sabbath well – as both a day and an attitude – we have to think clearly about God and freshly about time. We likely, at some level, need to change our minds about both. Unless we trust God’s sovereignty, we won’t dare risk Sabbath. And unless we receive time as abundance and gift, not ration and burden, we’ll never develop a capacity to savour Sabbath.”

“Exodus grounds Sabbath in creation. Deuteronomy grounds it in liberation. Exodus remembers Eden, Deuteronomy Egypt. In Exodus, Sabbath-keeping is about imitating divine example and receiving divine blessing. In Deuteronomy, it is about taking hold of divine deliverance and observing divine command.

Exodus looks up. Deuteronomy looks back. Exodus gives theological rationale for rest, and Deuteronomy historical justification for it. One evokes God’s character, the other his redemption. One calls us to holy mimicry – be like God; the other to holy defiance – never be slaves again. One reminds us that we are God’s children, the work of his hands, the other that we are no one’s chattel; not Pharaoh’s, not Nebuchadnezzar’s, not Xerxes’, not Beelzebub’s.

One is invitation. The other is warning.”

“Slaves don’t rest. Slaves can’t rest. Slaves, by definition, have no freedom to rest. Rest, it turns out, is a condition of liberty.”

“Get this straight: The rest of God – the rest God gladly gives so that we might discover that part of God we’re missing – is not reward for finishing. It’s not a bonus for work well done. It’s sheer gift. It’s a stop-work order in the midst of work that’s never complete, never polished. Sabbath is not the break we’re allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfilment of our obligations. It’s the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could.”

august ramblings

Two posts in one day, this must be some kind of record for me. I just posted my July book report but wanted to capture a few things online. This blog has served as a journal of sorts and I so appreciate reading back over old entries on what I was thinking, reading, doing in years gone by.

I spent the evening conducting a ‘mid-year review’, with a candle lit and a big black puppy dog curled up at my feet. I was inspired (again!) by Sarah’s post, aptly titled ‘How to conduct a great mid-year review (on yourself!)’, and it had been in my diary for weeks and weeks – August 14 isn’t exactly mid year, is it! But I finally found an hour to pull out a notepad and jot down some thoughts.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do pick a word for the year and always have a birthday list on the go. This year’s ‘word’ is actually two words: dig deep. It was good to take a few minutes and reflect on how that has unfolded in my life these past six seven and a half months. I found a scribbled line from earlier in my journal ‘dig deep – a year for roots, not for blossoms‘, and while this year has brought forth some beautiful blossoms, there has been something powerful about focusing on the roots. I’ve muttered ‘dig deep’ to myself a hundred times this year already, after hard days at work, late nights of study, pushing through endless lists of errands. They’ve been a good fit, those two words of mine!

Following Sarah’s advice, I reviewed the past year according to some example questions – how have I grown? What have I learnt? Do the rhythms of my life feel more or less balanced? At the end of each year I usually do a run down of ‘What has gone well this year? What has not gone well this year? What do I want the next year to look like in terms of work, family, friends, spirituality, health, travel etc?’, so I included that in my mid-year review as well.

I am in a season of life that I recognise is busy, and know it should be busy, and I am grateful it is busy! But the review also reminded me of a sermon from Tim Keller on the Sabbath that I listened to earlier this year and have since listened again twice and taken two pages of notes. It’s called Work and Rest and I highly recommend it (it’s on iTunes). He talks about practicing Sabbath as an act of liberation (if you don’t rest, if you can’t say no, if you are too busy – you are a slave!) and as an act of trust (I am not the one who keeps the world running, He is!), and throws in a handful of very practical disciplines to practice Sabbath in our modern world. It’s one thing I want to embrace further for the rest of the year.

Subject change. Speaking of putting things in my diary, I’m a full blown convert to the Planner Pad system. A former colleague got me intrigued (she said she’d used the same type of planner for something like 10 years) and after using it myself for 10 months, I’m hooked. It’s not the prettiest planner but it’s so functional and it’s nothing washi tape and some highlighters can’t fix.

There’s a little notes section on each weekly spread in the planner and I’ve been using it to track expenses or file ideas or, more recently, capture favourite quotes. Two quotes that have inspired and challenged me of late:

“Have some fire. Be unstoppable. Be a force of nature. Be better than anyone here. Don’t give a damn what anyone things.” – Cristina Yang (yes, I get my inspiration from prime time television…)

It gave me a good kick to go hard on a few things at work, to not shy back or hold myself down.

And second quote:

“The quest for a contemplative life can actually be self absorbed, focused on my quiet and me. If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy. Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life, it offers us a less busy heart.” – Paul Miller, A Praying Life

I’m working through A Praying Life with a couple of girlfriends, we do dinner and discussion and prayer each Tuesday night. This quote jumped off the page at me – a reminder to look beyond myself, a reminder that it’s okay to be busy, a reminder that even in the busy, prayer will bring peace to my heart.

August ramblings, over and out.

things I’m learning

“I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.”

– Tracee Ellis Ross

I love quotes and I pinned this one awhile ago. What a great thing to be learning. The space doesn’t always terrify me, per se, but it certainly frustrates me. But here’s to inspiration!

simplicity and obscurity

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“So for now I’ll continue to reduce and simplify, fight and engage until I know what else to do. What I know now is this: less. I don’t need to have the most, be the best, or reach the top. It is okay to pursue a life marked by obscurity and simplicity. It doesn’t matter what I own or how I’m perceived. Whether I succeed in the market or land hopelessly in the middle is irrelevant, although this used to keep me up at night.

I’m just beginning to embrace the liberation that only exists at the bottom, where I have nothing to defend, nothing to protect. Where it doesn’t matter if I’m right or esteemed or positioned well. I wonder if that’s the freedom Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3). In order for Jesus’ Kingdom to come, my kingdom will have to go, and for the first time I think I’m okay with that.”

Jen Hatmaker, in 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

I keep coming back to this passage. I read it a couple of months ago and, given my focus this year on simplicity, that one line ‘it’s okay to pursue a life marked by obscurity and simplicity‘ really caught my attention.

What kind of life am I pursuing?

More often that not, it’s marked by busyness and striving and trying to keep up with some unrealistic standard of who I should be, what I should be doing, where I should be heading. It felt like a long exhale, a cool summer breeze, a heavy load lifted, to realise it. is. okay. to pursue a life marked by different standards and measured by different parameters.

It is okay to pursue a life marked by ___________. How would you fill in the blank?

I started this year with simplicity, but I like the idea of obscurity too. (In fact, my little blog hiatus has been, in part, a practice in melting into the background for awhile, digging deep into a hidden life lived wholly and happily offline.)

I’d also like to add meaning and joy to that list, oh and service, and grace.

How about you? What do you want to pursue?

I’m gingerly testing the waters as to how I’d like to continue this blog. I blogged very regularly for the last few months because I was very unemployed. And very bored. Now I am very busy interning and very unsure if keeping a blog will add to my quest for simplicity, or detract from it. But I love the outlet that this space can be, so let’s just see how this goes!