Sabbath Rest

In Leviticus 25:4, God instructs Moses on taking care of the land He is giving him.

during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.” (NASB)

Sabbath rest is holy rest, and it is necessary for land, bodies, and hearts. We live in a sleep deprived society that refuses to pause. Stillness and rest are luxuries that escape us, or maybe busyness is simply a convenient excuse for not stopping.

I led a very busy life before retiring seven years ago and immediately took on a new job and worked for another four years. After that, I helped with my granddaughters while my daughter-in-law finished school and began working. I know the importance of Sabbath. It is one of the ten commandments we so adamantly want displayed in public places, but I’m afraid I’ve never modeled the commandment very well.

Shalom means peace or completeness, and Sabbath is the seventh day of the week set aside for spiritual renewal. We wish others Shabbot Shalom when we hope they will find a peaceful time of renewal with God. No one knows better than God how hard it is for His children to find a moment to rest in Him, and no one desires that time together more than He.

Psalm 46:10 says,

“Be still and know that I am God.” (KJV)

It’s always been difficult for me to be still, but I am getting better at stopping my striving and being still in God’s presence. I grew up believing I had to work for God, do for God, give to God, get for God, etc…. God prefers for me to stop for a moment and simply be with Him. The practices of silence, solitude, and simplicity are vital to spiritual growth. Stillness is an important element of each.

Land will be depleted if the same crop is planted year after year; the same is true for my heart. It, too, needs to be fallow for a season. Winter is a perfect season to rest in obedience and allow Christ’s precious love to seep deeply into my heart. I know God has wonderful plans, and I know that He knows my heart better than anyone. Doing is important, and God doesn’t want me to stop doing. He just wants me to take time to rest peacefully in His presence.

I slept for ten hours last night and have found myself day dreaming one and off all day. I love my sacred imagination, and I love watching it play in the open space of my fallow heart. I used to think that was a waste of time, but I’m learning it’s the most important time of all. As I go into the holiday season, I plan to make stillness a part of my preparations. It is a season of peace on earth, and what better place to start than in my own heart.

image courtesy of Darryl Smith via rgbstock.com

image courtesy of Darryl Smith via rgbstock.com

Praising The Razing:)

Razing is literally taking something to the ground, and that’s just what God’s done with my heart this Lent. He started on Ash Wednesday and has been demolishing in ways I still don’t understand. I do understand that I don’t have to understand, so I suppose that indicates a little growth. The messages this week have all been about community, and I’ve been humbled by the questions they have raised in my heart. God created us to be in community, and I’ve struggled with that my entire life. I’ve seen my inability to connect as God desires in the bareness left by His razing. He made it clear that I have to deal with that before He can go any further with the building He has in mind.

I do not plan to spend another moment figuring out why I haven’t made connections as I should have, and I do not plan to ponder the problems which may lie ahead. God made it clear to me today that it’s time to move forward, forget past hurts, and let go of future worries. God is God and will work out all the details. He isn’t asking me to do the building, only sweep away the fear-filled failures so I can see the bigger problem with my heart.

He used the image of tearing down a rotten wooden structure and then building a brand new one on the massive termite colony that caused the other to crumble. It will be fine for a little while, but it will eventually fall. It is a familiar pattern. God will take care of my heart problem, but He wants me to acknowledge it first and give Him the license to dig deeper. It was not fun to sweep away the failures because it meant facing them one by one and forgiving myself for each. I did, however, find great peace in handing over the excavation to His loving hands.

God took my heart down to the ground and me with it the past few weeks, and now He is insisting on digging even deeper. It is much easier to give Him the space to dig now that everything is gone, and there is sweet freedom to the emptiness before me. Like the show Extreme Makeover, demolition is necessary before a new structure can be built. Watching the demo may be fun, but looking at the vast emptiness is frightening. I am excited about what God will do with the space now that it’s empty, I have no doubts that it will be much better than what the folks on the show see when Ty says, “Move that bus!!”

Until then, I’m praising His razing and not worrying about the results. God has a much better imagination than I do, and He knows what’s best for me. I marvel at God’s timing but then I remember that He’s been waiting for me to give Him the space so He can do the remodeling He has in mind. It was my prayer on Ash Wednesday, and it is my prayer this Good Friday. I pray it will always be my prayer. I might just see a tent when God moves that bus:) Whatever I see, I plan to shout “Hallelujah!!” at the top of my heart!