This weekend I played injured and under-the-influence, but I played. Thursday on the way home from my Aunt Ann’s funeral in Ohio I began to tremble with something dreadful in my innards. Friday I spent most of the day sleeping, mercifully, bright sunlight fell through the window across the bed. Saturday I started medications designed to kill the infection that afflicted me.
Sunday my Bethel talk was on rest. I called it “Red Dot Days.” It came from a deep place in my soul. I drove home and crawled back into bed and enjoyed two sweet hours of drooling sleep, rose and drove to Kalamazoo. I had promised to tell stories at a hymn-sing that involved old favorites, harmonica, a spirited choir, and a women’s trio and a lively men’s quartet. It was all led by my little brother Nathan. There was great joy and love in the house. After church we went to a sit-down restaurant and I began to get my legs under me again. The custard helped some. Maybe it was the gummy bears, but is was probably the green antibiotic pills. I stayed late, drove home and tumbled into bed for a good night’s rest without doing any of my normal Sunday afternoon writing.
I’m feeling a bit better today, but I may run out and stock up on gummy bears just to be safe.
How Well Are You Following Jesus?
If you really know Jesus you will have rest in your soul. This is how he put it. “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lovely in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
If you don’t have rest in your souls, you are not following Jesus well.
Charles Spurgeon once illustrated the importance of rest in this way:
“Look at the mower on a summer’s day. With so much to cut down before the sun sets, he pauses in his labor. Is he a sluggard? He looks for a stone and begins to draw it up and down the scythe, rink a tink, rink a tink, rink a tink. He is sharpening his blade. Is that idle music?
Is he wasting precious moments? How much he might have mown while he was ringing out those notes on his blade. But he is sharpening his tool. And he will do far more when once again he gives his strength to those long sweeps which lay the grass prostrate in rows before him. Even thus a little pause can prepare the mind for greater service in a good cause.”
Once an elderly man gave me sound advice. He said; “Son, every now and then you need to take the scenic route.” I did that one day driving my Red Jeep, George from South Bend to Detroit across Michigan on old Route 12. It was a glorious October day. I turned off the radio, powered down the windows and let the fresh air blow through my soul. Along the way I drove within just a few miles of the place we now own and call Bittersweet Farm. I had no idea that the countryside I was savoring that day would become our home. There was no way of knowing that God would display his goodness to us in such a rich kindness. The drive took a lot longer but I arrived home with a peaceful spirit. It was good for my soul. The old man was right.
Someone once asked a Rabi, “How have the Jews preserved the Sabbath for thousands of years?”
The old Rabbi answered; “The Jews have not preserved the Sabbath. The Sabbath has preserved the Jews.”
Jesus, himself took naps and long walks along the lake. He retreated to the mountains, the wilderness and the sea to rest and meditate and pray. When he worked he worked hard, but he did not always work. There was more to his life than work.
Our daughter Holly is married to a “doer.” He is a diligent, hard-working, organized responsible man and his default setting is “getting things done.” She loves him deeply and enjoys the fruit of these qualities in her life, but one day she said; “We’re going on a trip to his folks this weekend. I’m so looking forward to it. We will be in the car together for hours. There will be no projects to distract him. I will have him all to myself.”
Did it ever occur to you that God really can run the whole universe without your help? He lets you work with Him because He loves you, but he is in no way dependent on your help. Sometimes he just wants you all to himself. How often does God get you all to himself?
Have you ever been with a loved one and you want to say; “Look at me. Just stop what you are doing. Sit down. Put everything else aside and be with me.”
There is joy obedeience to the all the things our Creator has commanded. This is true of sabbath. Bible teacher Marva Dawn wrote in her book Keeping Sabbath Wholly; “God did not tell us to keep the Sabbath holy to spoil our fun, but to deepen our joy.”
As New Testament believers we are not under obligation to keep the Sabbath but God created in such a way that our souls to flourish in a sacred rhythm of work and rest.
I am a follower of Jesus who took naps and long walks and enjoyed leisurely conversation over slow meals with friends and commanded his followers to observe birds and consider flowers and take a regular day off. I know this: If my soul is not at rest, I’m not following Jesus well.
April 1, 2019