Tuesday, August 16, 2011


So I am back to my office following a three month sabbatical. Part of the purpose of the time was to study the sabbath, work, ministry, and family rhythms of the early Puritans and then bring some of those insights into my day. It seemed a reasonable goal - figure out how it all works and then make it work! Did I learn things? yes. Did I put some of it into practice? yes. Is it all figured out and working? no.  I do have some random insights at this point...

* There is no such thing as a routine day! To even think such a thing exists would mean that everything is in my control - it would remove God from the equation. Granted, most days are comprised of a number of very similar elements and they can seem routine because they are always present but they get juggled around, relationships are always shifting, there are frequent unexpected problems, joys and opportunities. I discovered that planning and structure are important but only because they give a platform for constantly making adjustments. I thought that with the removal of all the time and energy of full time ministry removed for three months it would be easy to establish routines of sabbath rest in my day and week - not so.
* I discovered that "distractions" are not the enemy of sabbath rhythms rather they are daily opportunities to press closer to Jesus. In reading the Gospels, Jesus was often trying to get away alone but the crowds would find Him out - it says that He often could not even find time to eat. Yet, His life was still marked by regular patterns of work-ministry-rest.
* Insights follow study and experience. Of course we all know this but it is an on-going process - the insights get deeper over time but it does take time.
* I think the goal of sabbath is not achieving but depending. It is not something I accomplish but an ongoing longing for more of Him. The Lord said He allowed the Israelites to hunger so that they would learn that man does not live on bread alone but on the words of God. He wanted them to look to Him, to depend on Him - this was far more important than getting it right.
* Ultimately sabbath is not learned ... it is practiced... over and over and over. Here is the heart of it - it is moment by moment and a perpetual activity of the heart. Just orienting ourselves in that direction again and again is transformative and brings our minds and activity and hearts in line with the truth that we are already at rest in the finished work of Christ.

So how do we see these rhythms work out with full schedules, kids, flat tires, money problems, work stress.....? It begins and continues by having a longing for Him, a heart bent on receiving His gift of rest - in that turning and longing He begins to shape our days.

1 comment:

  1. Chris: Thanks. Attempting this journey shows great integrity and courage - - would not want to purposely (and so transparently) do so myself. Thanks for pointing out that Sabbath is an attitude of dependence upon and resting in the LORD and not some rigid weekly observance. It reminds me of a period when I was obliged to work seven days a week and would miss church for weeks and months on end. When I would sometimes get a few minutes to just be outside and look at the cloud formations, I saw a portrait that was personally painted for me by a Creator who still remembered me. You have identified those few brief moments for what they were - - sabbath.


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