Tag Archives: rest

Rest and Relax

The Lord is My Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

  –Psalm 23 (KJV)

Like many others, I love the Twenty-third Psalm. I read those words about “green pastures” and “still waters” and am reminded of the free spirited fun I had spending summers at my grandparents’ farm up a dirt road hollow in Potter County. Depending on the day, I’d go off on an adventure with our neighbor, or my cousins, or even my little brother, and we’d explore the pasture, the upper meadow, or the forest, staking out our claim to territory and finding great “undiscovered” camping sites.

But some of my best memories were the times I was alone, just me and God, out for a walk. Inevitably, I’d end up stopping and sitting alongside the banks of this one little stream that cut through the pasture behind the barn. I would just sit there and watch the water bubble along on its way down the stream… knowing that, eventually, that water would end up as part of the Gulf of Mexico via the Oswayo, Allegheny, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers. It was peaceful. In the quietness of those moments, I found myself close to God and able to talk with Him and hear Him talk with me.

Summertime is here again, only now I’m more than 45 years older. And I don’t have a schedule of playing, followed by hiking and exploring. Not even sitting down by a stream. I’m adult now… I have a lot to do. I have expectations to meet for my job and my family. I don’t have the time to do that “kid” stuff… Or do I? The problem is just this: In losing the “play” time, most of us lose the quiet time… and lose the time to spend quietly with our God, as well.

The Bible is filled with times where God commands His people to rest and times that they were commanded to play!

The command to take time off and rest goes back to the Ten Commandments, requiring that one day out of every seven be spent doing no work… just resting. And if you violated that command even to go out and try to pick up extra food (the manna lying on the ground), God would see to it that that food went bad before you got to eat it. He knew that He made the human body needing rest. Even now, without proper rest and time off, our bodies still become more susceptible to disease and injury… as well as stress and burn-out.

The command to celebrate was extra-time off every so often where the people had a festival, special meals, special worship services, being together with extended family and friends that you wouldn’t get to see all the time. It renewed the mind and rejuvenated the spirit. You had something to look forward to once again, no matter how tough the year might have been.

This summer, let’s schedule in some time to rest and to play… the way God meant for us to do. Time off to relax and connect with God again and also time deliberately spent reconnecting with the people He’s put in our lives… our families… at home and at church.

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Filed under Church Leadership, holidays, Newsletter, sabbath

American Reflections

My wife and I took a cross-country trip in 2002 as part of home-schooling our two daughters (12 & 13) and partly as vacation. We also took a foster daughter (17) and my wife’s mother. This was my end of trip reflection that I thought I might use as the basis for a pastor’s letter, but never did. (Jan. 28, 2002)

My family and I just came back from three weeks traveling out west. Our purpose was to rest a bit, visit Gay’s brother in California, and to give the girls the ultimate educational field trip. We went through 16 different states and spent a day in Mexico’s Baja California region as well.

As is often the case, I found myself being educated probably more than the girls.

  • I learned that looking down from the top of the St. Louis Arch makes my knees quiver.
  • I learned that you know nothing about waiting and the need for patience until you try to drive back into the United States in this post-Sept. 11th era.
  • I learned that it is silly to take along three or four “fun” books to read in your quiet times when you have 6700 miles to go with five others all staying in the same hotel room with you every night.
  • Oh yeah, I also learned the names of parts of a car such as spindles, races, bearings, motor mounts, and axles… and I learned that every one of them can break without warning or provocation… whether I know their name or not.
  • I also learned how evil and sinful mankind can be, as we stopped in Las Vegas and were bombarded by the worst of humanity’s vileness, vulgarity, greed, drunkenness, and lust, (and this was at 6:00 in the evening!).
  • I saw the evidence of evil again in Oklahoma City at the bombing memorial and I came face to face with the evil and hatred possible even in us as Americans towards each other.

But I also, once again, learned how great God is. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “Be still, and know that I am God,” but places like the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River, the Mojave National Preserve, the Utah buttes, the Texas plains, the Malibu beach in California, the High Plains of Kansas, the Colorado Rockies, and each day’s new and glorious sunrises and sunsets, just showed me in new ways how colorful and creative and imaginative and detailed our Creator is, and was, and will continue to be.

As we faced mile after mile, and hundreds of rest areas and almost two dozen nights in hotels and motels, I found myself seeing God at work in the “drawing together” of our family. We did homework together, we talked, we hunted for license plates from different states, we asked questions, we swam together, we got “lost” together (I still think I could have found my way out). We shopped together (OK… They shopped and I “hung out”). We toured museums, memorials, and national parks, a tea factory, the Gaither resource center, the Focus on the Family ministry center, three different car repair garages, visited old friends, sang together in a nursing home in Arkansas, visited churches in Texas and Missouri, and spent a day with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.

We saw God’s hand leading us as we found that we were in the right spot at the right time again and again. Each of the three times we had car troubles, we found ourselves close to someone who could help us, with a place to stay nearby.

Several times we found ourselves at the right spot to be an encouragement for someone else who needed someone to pray for them and with them. We arrived in Texas on the very day that a special speaker was coming in and holding special services at our friend’s church.

Throughout Scripture, God instructs His people to take time away from their regular daily activities. Weekly Sabbath days of rest and occasional extended Jubilees and personal retreats are ideas found in God’s Word. These times help us to regain our focus and recapture the sense of what is important as we not only serve God in our workplaces, but also in our families and in the wider ministry setting of His world.

How will your family use rest, Sabbath, and vacation to regain your connection to each other and to our amazing God?

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Another post recalling that trip can be found here: October 1, 2008.

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I Shall Not Be Afraid…

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