(Psalms 42:7) “Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me”
(Guest writer with Sterling is Dr. Jim O’Neill)
Wayne Miller notes in “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and delight in our busy lives” that we are driven by three values, “consumption, speed, and productivity consumption have become the most valued human commodities.” These values hinder us from giving careful attention to our souls.
What I would like to suggest is 5 practices to help jump start us forward in attending to our souls and push back against these cultural trends.
- IMPORTANCE OF LOCATION:
Find a place isolated from unnecessary noise. If possible a venue with no or little computer or cell service. A place that is beautiful and meaningful to you. The correlation between the physical space outdoors and meeting with God seems to be evident throughout Scripture.
Jim and I love the beach or the mountains. Sometimes it might just be a free place provided to just get away from the familiar. Last year right before we resigned from our last ministry assignment, a ministry couple, friends from college, happened to come through to visit. After our sweet time, they offered their place at the beach for us to use anytime. God knew, but we didn’t, we would be in need of asking our friends, one month later, for their place.
When you think of a sabbath, how important do you think the location is for you? What spot might be meaningful, beautiful and/or free from unnecessary noise for you?
- IMPORTANCE OF REST:
Rest is important but it often takes time to actually slow down and rest. So make sure you literally, verbally if needed, give yourself permission to physically rest; finding that rhythm where the soul is actually receiving the rest it needs. Hopefully it will not take too long, but for Jim and me it usually takes the first 3 days of our Sabbatical to disconnect from the noise.
What will be your TRIGGER for resting each day or the days you take a Sabbath? From what I understand, the Jewish practice their sabbath each Friday at dusk when the sun goes down, (their trigger) no matter where they are with their work they stop and light a candle. This marks the beginning of their “Shabbat”, their time to rest. Others, might be as simple as a bell ringing, or taking “tea time”. How about you?
There will always be work but give yourself permission to relax, take physical rest if needed and find that rhythm that triggers, it is time to slow down and rest the soul.
- IMPORTANCE OF CREATING ACTIVITIES:
What’s going to restore you? What will help release the cares of the world, and find what will nourish, refresh and/or bring joy both individually or with you and your spouse together?
For example: We enjoy tennis, Scripture reading, listening to Psalms on audio and to music, praying, sitting on a beach, reading a novel, naps, hiking, reading a book together, etc…. The list is unlimited depending where your sabbatical is spent. What might you record?
- IMPORTANCE OF CREATING SPACE: Creating Space for meaningful conversations with spouse or others.
Creating Space for Spouse if together:
It is good to prep well.
What would be meaningful for you if you were to take a sabbatical? If with a spouse, take time to talk about your expectations and/or desires before you go, to get an idea of where both of you are on the journey. Do not assume your spouse likes everything you like. Maybe they want you to join them in something too. It is a work in progress and we are growing deeper together in understanding but an important step is to get started and verbalize your ideas.
Jim and I enjoy walking the beach and/or holding hands under the moonlight each night to debrief the day, like, talking about our reflections of Scriptures from that day, or finding times to laugh, and reminisce some of the important conversations we might have encountered for that day, among other things. One day Jim didn’t care to play “putt putt” golf. But I appreciated his willingness to join me and play anyway. How about you?
Creating Space for Mutual Fellowship with others in the Lord:
Jim and I went to a small local church in the area on Sunday and the following week Jim joined their men’s Bible Study. Another night we went to a church concert where a family had written songs on Psalms and creatively sang them for those who attended the worship event.
Another day we saw this old Episcopal Church who would be offering a noonday Celtic Lord’s supper. We decided to go. It was rich in Scripture. This allowed us deep conversations around God’s Word with God’s people.
Afterwards we found out they had a Labyrinth Prayer Walk on the grounds. It was a quiet reflective beautiful place giving way to significant conversations with the Lord.
It might be as simple as sitting around a table talking and laughing with those you love or with each other. Or perhaps reading a book together then discussing it.
- IMPORTANCE OF PERSONAL MEDITATION TIME
What can the Holy Spirit use to usher in the presence of God into your life, and refresh you? Through personal meditation and sharing time we can empty ourselves in order for Him to fill us with more of His presence.
The Holy Spirit uses God’s Word:
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 16:13-14 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
As we mediate on God’s Word, the Holy Spirit then can reveal God’s heart to us. We can then be ready to give attention to our ministry tasks and kingdom assignments afresh.
Prayer: Times of extended prayer. We have put together a prayer journal we use to pray through while driving. Other times walking the beach after listening to Psalms we often pray the Scriptures back to God among other needs.
What will you study and mediate on? Jim and I both have our different desires for study in God’s Word during our sabbatical times. And separately, we both read through the Bible, and Psalms, but sometime during the day we share what God has said to us.
One author and pastor notes how on Mondays, his day off from ministry demands, he and his wife, pick a place to ride their bikes and/or hike up a mountain trail. For two hours they journey in silence. During this leisure trek they slow down at various points to observe or worship God among His beautiful creation. Then, later while eating their lunch, they debrief with one another about their worshipful encounters with God, coming away more filled up with the presence of Jesus.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU?
So have we captured your Sabbatical moral imagination? Are you ready to dive into your first sabbatical? If not what is holding you back? Your soul will thank you.
If so here are 5 practices: Importance of location, rest, personal meditation, and creating activities and space, along with any special ideas you may want to add, that will move you forward.
Here are some questions to help get you started:
When you think of a sabbath, how important do you think the LOCATION is for you?
What will be your TRIGGER for resting each day or the days you take a Sabbath?
What’s going to restore you: help release the cares of the world, and find what will nourish, refresh and/or bring joy both individually or with you and your spouse together?
What would be meaningful for you if you were to take a sabbatical?
What can the Holy Spirit use to usher you into the presence of God, and refresh you?
What could you study and mediate on?
Let’s create some conversational space so we can inspire one another in seeking rest for the soul. We are already in the race to rest, come join us…..
Next blog entry of THE LOST ART OF THE SABBATICAL REST SERIES…. “God on Sabbath” (Part 3).
Personal Reflection:. What does practicing a sabbatical mean to you? What part of the blog article captured your attention? What would be your first step to get started practicing a Sabbath? Please share your thoughts in the comment section of the article “5 Practices to JumpStart your Sabbath”.
From One Pilgrim to another together on the journey,
”Consider how you may spur one another on towards love and good deeds….. encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
“ Intentionally journaling alongside of mission minded women in order to encourage them to see God in their story, moving them closer to Jesus, and to discover their place in God’s Kingdom so God will be worshipped among the nations”