May to July 2017 was a generally stressful period for me because of so many transitions. It was a period of many “trial-and-error” moments in order to build a new “normal” or a new “rhythm” that can help me get settled into this new season.
You know what I’m saying?
First, I went back to graduate school.
Second, I’m also raising support to sustain myself as I study.
Third, I went back to weekly clinical work while serving as a Missionary Pastor.
Interesting faith-stretching changes have been happening here and there… then, you gasp and realize you’re missing something really important… I asked myself, “When do I take my sabbath (or rest) in this crazy schedule?”
We Don’t Know When to Stop
High-capacity leaders tend to subtly abuse themselves by pushing oneself too much in order to gain great results. There’s no question about excellence here, but it is as if we do not know when to stop — until sickness creeps in, ugh!
It is as if it’s a grave sin to take a break and rest. And by the way, I think a lot of top leaders nowadays never really get to maximize or utilize their “vacation leaves”. (Just a footnote to stir up our thinking!)
For some, to stop working for a brief period means non-productivity. And non-productivity would eventually lead to unemployment. For the unemployed (i.e. students), to take a break is tantamount to laziness. The list of reasons goes on and on.
So the deeper issue then could be… why do we not want to rest?
Thankfully, I have good and loving friends who have been reminding me to really pause, re-think my schedule… above all, to think about my priorities. Whew!
A Hard Lesson to Grasp
Resting is an issue of priority. If to rest is to be a priority, then I need to have a paradigm shift about seriously taking my sabbath rest. Below are a few thoughts that I believe would help us understand the vital lesson behind what I’m trying to say.
- Sabbath rest is a biblical pattern set by the LORD to help us take intentional moments to know the Him more (i.e. going to a local church for corporate worship, set aside time for extended personal Bible study) and to simply set our focus on Him.
- Sabbath rest is a time to trust God for our “daily bread”. In the Israelites’ wilderness experience (i.e. Exodus 16), we see an important principle of trusting God’s provisions even on sabbath. Furthermore, to rest is also an opportunity to give yourself some grace to enjoy the Lord’s blessings.
- Sabbath rest empowers us for the work we have been called into. While the first two items aforementioned speaks of our “walk with God”, this idea picks our brains to re-thinking how we view rest and how it affects our “work for God”. What I mean is that many work today so that they can rest tomorrow — which is not bad. But how about taking the sabbath rest seriously today… so that we can fulfill our responsibilities well tomorrow — and the days ahead! Thus, to rest becomes a vital ingredient for productive work and a vibrant life! Make it part of your schedule!
I write these things not as an expert, but as a fellow sojourner who struggles with busyness yet desires to make appropriate changes one day at a time.
In a silent retreat that I had a few years back, I was struck by the words of Fil Anderson while reading hisbook, “Running on Empty”. He wrote:
“Running on empty is not how God intended me to live my life. Running on empty is not my identity as a beloved child of God. Precisely because my identity is rooted in God’s indescribable, unconditional, unlimited, and eternal love, I can continue on the road to recovery from my addiction to activity and performance and believe with my whole heart that no words describe me better than these: I am a radically beloved child of God.”
Take a moment of reflection. Examine your life, your motivations, your activities and your priorities. Finally, be rested in the One who loves you unconditionally, who holds you willingly, and who is inviting you to trust Him every step in this journey called “life”.
[Note: If you are interested to learn about taking a one-month sabbatical, here’s a helpful article by Michael Hyatt.]