Rest Stops on My Journey

My Recalibrate Life Read for July is Even God Rested: Why It’s Okay for Women to Slow Down by Kim Thomas. This book centers around the themes of ceasing and feasting in the three areas of Emotional Rest, Physical Rest, and Spiritual Rest. There are suggestions, Rest Stops at the end each chapter to guide you in the process.

I have read this book slowly, a little at a time to let it soak in. I am left with a several takeaways but I will just share a few from each section of the book.

I am seeing as I move through this year that my four main priorities in recalibrating my life are to:

1. Learn to linger, savor, and slow down.

2. Learn to be present in the moments of life.

3. Learn to live in simplicity.

4. Learn to rest in the Lord’s love, abandoning outcomes to Him.

They all fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. They are interrelated, and as I grow in learning to live more like this, I am realizing that this growth in learning requires both ceasing and feasting.

Thomas says, “…we have neglected the pursuit of the eternal in pursuit of the temporary.” Looking back on my life I can see this as being true.

It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. The expectations and obligations send us running and in the hustle and bustle of it all, we miss much of what really matters. We are consumed by the stressors of life. And quite often we never really stop to look at what the causes of our stress are, we just keep pushing on.

Stress is the very first thing Thomas deals with in her book. She suggests that we look for the stress triggers in our lives and figure out ways to deal with them. I am learning to recognize where my stress level is at and what the triggers are. I think often in our busyness we may not even be aware of how we are living with overwhelming stress. One book I read said that stress can become like adrenaline to our bodies, pushing us on.

Stress changes how we act and interact. It causes us to react, often in ways that may be harsh. When I am stressed, I often react with frustration out of feeling overwhelmed. Thomas suggests that once we learn what our stress triggers are, that we try to anticipate what is coming rather than reacting. When we do this it is easier to respond in a softer way.

As I learn about my stress triggers I’m learning to respond rather than react. I recently realized how frustrated I was getting when my brother called. All I could think of is what I needed to be doing, and I was short and edgy with him. After thinking about it I recognized that he was always calling when I was in the middle of getting dinner ready, and that irritated me. So the next time it happened I responded by telling him of a better time to call, and since then it hasn’t been an issue. Such a silly little thing caused me so much frustration, and there was such a simple solution. But in my initial upset, I didn’t think about a solution, I only reacted.

Thomas says, “…an unbalanced woman has nothing to offer herself or those around her.” So it is helpful to begin to find some balance in the areas of stress that have kept me teetering.

Along with that Thomas reminds her readers to remember to “replenish your well.For me, replenishing my well means taking time to relax, to read, or journal, or on occasion, even take a nap. I am choosing to gift myself with those things in between tasks on my to-do list. Replenishing my well does a lot for my attitude.

Some other areas Thomas discussed ceasing from in the area of Emotional Rest, are noise, negativity, numbness, and anger. I find that often my negativity and anger arise out of stress. She asks three important questions in the areas of Ceasing from Anger, Feasting on Flexibility. Each of these are important, especially to me, because often I have trouble being flexible. Maybe you will find them helpful as well.

1. “Is it possible for us to become more flexible, to survive the conflicts around us by adapting more appropriately?”

2. “Can I find myself surrendering my need to control in favor of relaxing in God’s ultimate sovereignty in my life?”

3.”Can I put the small stuff in perspective and flexibly move through my day?”

Good questions to take into consideration when learning to choose Emotional Rest.

The next section is Physical Rest. And in this section we learn about ceasing from busyness, hurrying, over-consuming, and crowds. Busyness and hurry were the areas of most interest to me here. As we learn to cease from busyness we learn to feast on leisure, and as we learn to cease from hurry Thomas discusses feasting on slowing down.

In the section on Ceasing from Hurry, Thomas reminded me of something I am slowly learning. “God’s love and acceptance do not depend on what I do. His grace is not opposed to my efforts, but my efforts do not earn grace.” Oh, how I need to remind myself of this when I forget about walking with “slow feet” and begin rushing about.

I know I often have heard myself say, “there is never enough time for all I want or need to get done.” But using the Bible story of the feeding of the 5000, Thomas reminds us, “…if we give God what is in our lunchbox, he will make it be enough.” I need to give my moments to Him and let Him lead me in making the time I have to be enough.

Thomas suggested in this section to make a time pie relating to how you spend your days. She asks, “Which pieces should be smaller, which pieces should be bigger?” This is so helpful to really see how your time is being consumed and to see if you are doing what really matters. I know I seem to easily waste time on things that distract me during the course of a day.

Finally, in the area of Spiritual Rest, she writes about ceasing from fear, hard-heartedness, the need to know everything, and anxiety.

Here ceasing from fear and anxiety interested me most. When we cease from fear we need to learn to feast on trust. In the Spiritual Rest Stop here, Thomas gives a long list of scriptures to feast on. Thomas says, “Putting away fear and feasting on trust, we rest in the reliability of God.” How very true! That is what I am learning as I seek to know His love for me in a deeper way.

In the area of Ceasing from Anxiety, Thomas reminds us of these important truths:

1. “The first step to ceasing from anxiety and feasting on peace is recognizing our need to surrender control.” (Yes, I am slowly learning to abandon outcomes to the Lord.)

2. “We have to remember that even though we have relinquished control, we are not sent untethered into life’s anxious circumstances. God secures our tether and he is still in control.”

So, with these things in mind, knowing that God is in control, Thomas suggests that we can only do what we can do. Anxiety gets us nowhere. But in the Lord we can find peace and we can definitely trust in Him!

Thomas shares the story of the fiery furnace from the book of Daniel. She reminds us of the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they said “if their worst ‘what-ifs’ came to pass, ‘even-so’ they would praise God.” Oh, Lord help us to look at our “what-ifs” in this way, with a willingness to praise you!

This book was another great read on my journey of recalibrating life. I hope you found something helpful here for you as you journey with Jesus.

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Sabbath: Choosing to Feast

This week we finish up looking at Sabbath-keeping as I travel on this journey of recalibrating life. The final section of Marva Dawn’s book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly is about choosing to feast. The feasting here is not all about food, instead we seem to be filling up on so much of the goodness of God, feeding on His blessings.

Dawn begins by discussing feeding on the eternal. Preparing for the Sabbath, we ready our hearts to meet our eternal God and we seek Him as we yearn for Him to reveal Himself to us through His Word. Dawn tells us that only “with humility and gratitude can we approach the table of God’s Word to feast there on His eternal love.” Further on she reminds us that only “by His grace has he chosen to reveal himself to us, only by his grace can we understand and believe what his revelation declares.”  We need to come before Him hungering for His truths and revelations seeking to recieve “the manna of His Word.” But we must come in a spirit of rest, ceasing from work, reaching and hungry for Him.

We need to find “spaces of uncluttered silence” in our lives because it is only then that we can attend to the Lord’s voice nudging us forward, or recognizing the peace that He longs to fill us with. Sabbath gives us the perfect space for this.

Recently I found some space for silence, sitting outside on our patio as I took time to enjoy writing in my journal. As I did, I was serenaded by a choir of birds singing loudly in the morning sun. There were so many different sounds, trills and tweets, chirps and cheeps, all together making a beautiful melody. I put my pen down and laid my head back, with my face tilted toward the morning sun, I closed my eyes, and just listened. Oh how sweet it was to hear them praise the Lord. Their song truly did bring my heart peace and I breathed deeply. There I sat feasting on the goodness of my Eternal Creator God.

It is in those times when we are reminded of His promises, His gifts, and His love. We quiet our hearts to  take them in, and in receiving them we thereby find ourselves feasting on the eternal.

Dawn also speaks of feasting on music. I learned to love music from my mom. I grew up in a church with musical liturgies and all the old hymns filled with rich biblical truths. Since then, I moved on to a church that does many more contemporary songs, with beautiful words and melodies, catchy tunes and repetitious phrases, but not as many deep truths.

I hadn’t really missed the old hymns until recently, when I went with Mom to the Sing to Jesus time at her assisted living home. The chaplain led us in a variety of old hymns and shared biblical truths relating to the theme of Lent just prior to Resurrection Sunday. I left there with my heart so full. Phrases from those hymns stayed with me for days, and my heart feasted on them.

Another area we can feast on as we celebrate the Sabbath is that of beauty. Dawn speaks of some special  ways she feasts on beauty, a couple of those being playing her music boxes and savoring the illustrations in various children’s books. She also mentions other possibilities, such as going to a museum, or hiking in a nature park, or just taking time to reflect on the character of God.

Just the other day I went to the grocery store to pick up a sweet treat for my mom and as I walked out I saw colorful displays of blooming garden flowers available for purchase. I stopped right there in the middle of an ordinary day and feasted on the beauty of those flowers.  The ranunculus especially captured my attention. It was not the Sabbath, but yet I enjoyed the Lord’s creation all potted up ready to be brought home. So on the Sabbath, we can take time to take a walk through a garden, or through a woods and see the beauty of God’s creation. Or we can listen to the beauty of children’s laughter at a playground or in our homes.  Or maybe we can enjoy the beauty of the voice of a loved one we haven’t spoken with in a while as we talk with them on the phone.

An obvious area of feasting discussed in this section is that of feasting on food. Dawn suggests saving some favorites to enjoy on the Sabbath. She mentions drinking coffee or tea during the week and saving hot cocoa or a specialty coffee for the Sabbath. Or having your families favorite meal on the Sabbath. It gives all something to look forward to.

Feasting on affection on the Sabbath is the last area I want to highlight. Dawn says,”the intentionality of [the Sabbath] lends itself to a conscious enjoyment of our relationships with and delight in, each other as an outgrowth of our delight in Yahweh.” 

We might take time to enjoy family relationships as we plan for special visits or offering hospitality. Or we may feast on the Lord’s love for us as we choose to be intentional about enjoying the His presence. We can also intentionally enjoy the love and affection of our church community as we attend our weekly worship service. Many times during the week busyness keeps us from really being present with others and showing love or affection. So as we celebrate the Sabbath we can make an effort to give away the love the Lord so generously blesses us with as well as recieve His love from and through others.

We set aside the Sabbath for ceasing, for resting, for embracing, and for feasting. And as we do we are nourished and nurtured, our empty selves are filled to overflowing. We are readied for the coming week. Celebrating the Sabbath is such a blessing, will you choose to set aside some time to celebrate this wondrous gift the Lord has given us?

 

*Photo from Unsplash by Stephanie Crist