Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Green Tree or Tumbleweed?

Use your imagination with me for a minute. Can you picture in your mind a beautiful tree, fresh and green, planted in a lush garden?

Palm trees at the beach

Now imagine the opposite. Desolate land with fried tumbleweed blowing about aimlessly. Think about those images for a minute.

Chad and I just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. For the first time since our girls were born, we took a few days off together for the sole purpose of getting away to relax and reconnect. We were amazed at how restful five days without our normal routine could be. Several days after we got home, Chad mentioned to me, “I see you” again. 

Upon reflection, I think that is what God intends the Sabbath to be, a time for us to see Him clearly again. When we take time to rest and tune into God, our minds clear, priorities realign. We have time to listen to what he wants to say to us. We are mindful of the still, small, voice of his spirit, and it’s direction. In fact, God knows our spirits need this rest and reconnection with him so much that he COMMANDS us to do it. The fourth commandment God gave Moses is “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”.

Our culture pushes us to work faster, harder more. Through computers and PDAs we can be “always on”. We think somehow that if we don’t keep plowing through our days, that the work won’t get accomplished. Jeremiah 17:5-8 says this:

“God’s Message: Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans,
Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth.
He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.

But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees planed in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers-
Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm throughout droughts, bearing fresh fruit in every season.”
(The Message)

Later in the chapter, he goes on to give some very stern warnings about keeping the Sabbath holy “This is God’s message. Be careful, if you care about your lives, not to desecrate the Sabbath by turning it into just another work day”.  The repercussions of not following his word are dire. I encourage you to read Jeremiah 17 to see what he has to say.

Now believe me, I do not stand before you as someone who has mastered this art of Sabbath rest!  But it is an issue God has been working on in my heart over the last few months. There are certainly seasons of life where it can be difficult, if not impossible, to completely walk away from your obligations. However, I think there are steps ALL of us can take to slow down. Here are a few quick tips that I find helpful:

-       PLAN ahead for a restful day- literally remove some distractions from view. If that means making sure your kitchen is clean on Saturday afternoon, or that pile of work that’s been staring you down needs to get moved, do it! Get things arranged so they can sit for a day. I know of one family who tries to have their table set and a meal prepared and ready to pop in the oven by Saturday night so they can have a restful meal together on Sunday. If you need to, create some routines that will allow you to take one day “off”.
-       Turn off the technology: the phone, the news, Facebook. Believe me, the world will still be there waiting for you.
-       Take a break from whatever it is you see as “work”
-       Remember, the mere absence of work does not mean you’re focusing on God, either. Take time to worship, pray, read your Bible, take a walk. Reconnect with Him.

Of course, I’ve barely scratched the surface here. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to watch the 24/6 videos on RightNow media for more ideas on the importance of the Sabbath and keeping it holy.  

I don’t know about you, but I want to be like a tree planted in Eden, not tumbleweed!

How do you relax and reconnect with God?

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