Ann and I just returned from a much needed five-week sabbatical season of rest, reflection, and renewal. Our two main goals were simply to spend unhurried time connecting with God and with each other. One highlight for me was getting in the habit of sleeping eight hours per night. It’s amazing how much easier it is to walk in the power of the Spirit when one’s body is fully rested. I had been struggling to sleep a full night after so many international trips in the first six months of this year. Key lesson: If I want to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, sometimes it helps to start at the end of the list and work backward.
The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorts, “Let us therefore strive to enter God’s rest.” (Hebrews 4:11). Resting, genuinely breaking away from the compulsions of perpetual work, requires some serious striving.
Here’s a brief excerpt from my journal on the final day of our sabbatical:
Lord, you are changing me. I feel it. I feel it when someone looks at their watch and comments on how they are taking my time and should go, but I can freely offer myself, like I have all the time in the world.
I feel it when I am not hurried to finish a conversation, a workout, a chapter in the book I’m reading, a phone call, a project I’m working on, or a meal. Hurry in me creates apathy and thinness. Ease creates spaces for authenticity, genuine concern, acute awareness, and ultimately LOVE. Remember, “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” (Dallas Willard)
“I feel like a kid in a guitar shop”
When we reentered the world of meetings and email, people’s first question was “How was your sabbatical?” I shared that I felt like a kid in a guitar shop – I am eager, excited, ready, and can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and dig back into all God has for us. That’s how I know I’m refreshed and ready to go. I love this job!
What have you found helpful to enter rest?
3 replies on “Striving to Enter God’s Rest”
I’m a big fan of a full night’s rest. The days feel much more restful and productive when this is the case. Glad to hear the sabbatical was refreshing, Ken!
This makes me think of Psalm 23:2. “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” The key word to me is “makes.” Lying down is not something that comes naturally and not something we generally want to do, but it’s so important that God will make us do it. Just as it’s important to rest on the Sabbath, it’s important to be well rested throughout the week in order to have enough strength to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Thanks for a great post, Ken. “Hurry” to me is graphically like forcing oneself to go to the bathroom, which ends up in constipation. It hit me recently how incredibly and purposefully inefficient discipleship is, but that’s just how relationship building is!