Enjoying God, Making Friends & Changing Lives

Sabbath, Rest, Retreat

sabbath

Written by - Duncan Podbury

Written by – Duncan Podbury

God rests. Isn’t that amazing! I don’t think it’s because he gets tired (Ps 121), I think it’s because REST is both virtuous and valuable. The opening chapters of Genesis remind us of this and call us to join in with God and to benefit from his perspective and rhythm of work and rest.

The bible puts it this way, that –

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his workThen God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done (Genesis 1, v31-2v3)

To put it simply, when God took the day off he..

  • Stopped
  • Contemplated
  • Delighted
  • Rested

Taking time out is one of the most radical things we can do.

In STOPPING we declare ‘I am not God!’. It’s a moment where we admit our limits and have to exercise faith that God is enough and that he can provide. The Israelites practised this every week – leaving their farms and fields one day a week and entrusting their wellbeing to God. We can do it by resolving to not do economic work all the time. For some of us, STOPPING is essentially a trust issue, for others it might be about security. Perhaps you are very work driven? STOPPING is a way of saying ‘my identity is not going to be in what I do, it is in God!’. It’s a way we can say ‘I don’t have to win peoples admiration for how much I work – I am valued by God’. This is not necessarily an easy thing, but it is vital for our Christian growth in learning to enjoy, delight & trust in God!

Having stopped, God Contemplated (‘God saw all that he had made’). Rest becomes life-giving when we look around and intentionally look for the blessings –  the joys, the mercies, goodness, fruit and beauty in our lives that speak of the goodness of our creator. These are often things we are otherwise quick to forget. Writing down what’s happened, who you’ve been with, what you’ve observed can help us contemplate the many ways in which God is being good to us – through health, the kindness of a friend, time laughing with a colleague, good food, a beautiful evening or an answered prayer, etc.

Next, God delighted! God clearly enjoyed his day of rest (‘He saw that it was GOOD!’). Throughout the bible Sabbath days off, festivals (another form of Sabbath) and years of jubilee were always accompanied by meals, good wine, gatherings of friends, story-telling and praise. It can (and should be) FUN!

Finally, there was Rest. Interestingly, whilst the bible doesn’t give us much detail on this, the consistent picture of biblical rest is that it is rejuvenating, in a way that ‘vegging out’ may not necessarily be. Biblically, ‘rest’ is often associated with peace, surrender and handing situations over to God and has a restoring dynamic.

So, how can we be like God and enjoy Sabbath & rest? How can we be like Jesus who regularly took time out to reflect and connect to God?

Well, I think the key thing is to do something – take a couple of steps towards this as part of deepening your connection to God. This Sunday David Lyall shared 5 dead simple things he’s tried to do towards this.

Dave’s 5 practical ways to enter God’s rest were –

  • Celebrate! Gather some friends, with the intention of marking something – a key event, or even just saying – ‘lets all share some good news’
    • Switch off your electronic devices. YES!!! You can do this and survive!
  • Plan some time out. Borrow a dog; take a half hour to do and sit in the Dene. Go and journal in starbucks. Walk home instead of taking the bus.
  • ‘Head for the Hills’ – get in nature, let God wow you!
  • Get help. What have your friends discovered that might help you?

Our prayer is that we’d people who ‘enjoy God’s rest’, and in finding ways of doing this in the hustle and bustle of ordinary life, become people better connected to God, more fully surrendered and more growing in the peace and likeness of Jesus.

We’d love to hear how you get on!

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By Editor