• Bethany Harrold

Slowing Down (while the world is speeding up)


Let's talk about Sabbath. Some of us have thoughts of dressing up in Sunday best, going to church, eating Sunday dinner and having family time. My mom says she would go stir crazy on Sunday afternoons, wanting to go out and do something fun, while her parents took naps and moved slowly through the afternoon. Those of us from a different background might think of Sunday afternoon football, time spent watching movies or taking the last chance to sleep in before Monday morning hits. But what is the core Sabbath value here, the one that transcends backgrounds, traditions and cultural differences? What is the timeless invitation that God has hidden here for us? In a nutshell: Rest is a spiritual discipline and Sabbath is a detox for the soul. If we don’t take time to rest and engage in Sabbath regularly, we won’t be able to remain emotionally and spiritually healthy. Observing Sabbath in our lives is challenging to implement, but freeing in it’s simplicity. It's about sitting back, breathing in and embracing the richness of our life in Jesus. It's slowing down in a chaotic world. It's the opportunity to take time to intentionally relish prayer, linger in worship and build connection with those we love. In his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Comer explains that Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word “Shabbat”, meaning “To Stop”or "To Rest" . It can also be translated “to delight”. Sabbath is about taking time to delight in God, delight in our families, and delight in life. “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
 -St. Augustine 
 Nothing in this life apart from God can satisfy our desires. If we run around chasing delight in pleasures outside of His heart, we will find ourselves in a constant state of anxiety and dissatisfaction. When we fail to incorporate sabbath into our lives, we become spiritually dry and exhausted human beings. The Sabbath was made for man; it is a rhythm of stopping all the frenzied activity in order to rest and worship. The Sabbath was commanded for us to partake in, not as a rule of drudgery but because it’s necessary for our wholeness. 
 
 This lifestyle is a call that few in our current age are willing to answer. And yet we are invited: to set aside time every week, to sanctify it. To connect again to our purpose and the love surrounding us. The Sabbath is blessed and it is Holy (Gen. 2:3). When we respond to the invitation for Sabbath to become our way of life, we become blessed. 
When we ignore the invitation and pack our schedules full to the brim, we miss out on the blessing available. 
 Let's talk about our greatest example of living a life of peace and power: Jesus. The Son of God was never in a hurry. He never spent his days worrying about what He would eat or drink, or obsessing over having more, doing more and experiencing everything under the sun. He lived a lifestyle of rest that was easy and light because He knew who He was and He knew His purpose. Even in the pace of our modern day society, Jesus would operate the same as He did long ago, because it's a timeless value of living in the rhythm of grace. His yoke is easy, His burden is light, His ways are unhurried. (Matthew 11:28-30) This is the state of living we get to pursue. 
 So let's talk about ministry. In our projects and our service, we want to be like Jesus. What does it look like to be on assignment from heaven and full of purpose, while simultaneously being unhurried and unworried? A huge key here is being led by the Holy Spirit and ruthless in our assignment. We can say "no" to the allure of endless needs and requests, and say "yes" to our specific assignment from Heaven. We don't have to be stressed about not getting enough done, because our worth doesn't come from a completed to-do list. We know who we are and we can operate out of that identity in perfect peace. How many times have you asked someone how they are in the past few weeks and heard the answer "Busy!", and how many times have you answered the same? (I'm definitely raising my hand here too!) We tend to wear "busy" as a badge of honor, as some sort of status proclaiming how valuable we are because our time is in high demand. But Jesus was never suffocated by His schedule. He was never overcommitted and drowning in obligations. So, why would we settle for less than what's available to us? I want to encourage us not to settle! Living life spinning on a hamster wheel of stress and anxiety is not our purpose and was never meant to be our portion. We have the power to choose something better! Application: How will it look for you, in your life? When will you implement Sabbath on a daily and weekly basis? What will you change in your lifestyle to make space for rest, worship, enjoyment of the simple blessings and relationships God has put in your life? How will you stop allowing "busy" to be your status and start leaning into the richness of peace within God? It feels counter cultural, because it's the culture of the Kingdom. I believe if we lean into this message and orient our lives around following a Spirit-led agenda instead of a worldly one, we'll discover much more richness to life than we ever knew possible. I pray God blesses you with clarity, joy and peace as you work out a balance of purpose and rest in your life today.

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