I love the “fresh start” feeling of a new year. There is this hint of possibility, the opportunity to be a better, more whole version of ourselves than we were in the year prior. There is an undeniable beauty to that, maybe even a hope. But if you’re like me, there is also a pressure. Some form of unnecessary stress that whispers, “If you make a mistake, you’ll be right back at this point next year with nothing to show for your time but a couple more wrinkles and a few more pounds!” It’s a pressure that I do not enjoy, and a pressure that makes it hard to stop, to breath, to rest, and to trust.
And so, I want to extend an invitation to each of us (myself included!). As the frenetic pace of January comes to a close, I want to invite each of us to carve out spaces to just “be” in February. To rest, to listen, and to reflect on this past month before we look ahead to the next. As I continue to follow after Jesus, his teachings on rest, on the Sabbath and the First Testament Prophets’ teachings before him, become all the more impactful and transformative.
Sabbath, at its core, is about trust. Trust that God can do more through me in six days than I can do on my own in seven. Trust that in those six days, the Kindom of God will come more fully than I could bring it about with all my energy in seven. This reality radiates through the whole of scripture and, to me, culminates in Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30. I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases it,
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
If I’m honest, I used to think of rest as a day vegging out on the couch marathoning something on Netflix (probably Parks and Rec), but I don’t think I have ever learned “the unforced rhythms of grace” in front of a TV. Real rest, sabbath rest, is more intentional and more restorative. It makes us more whole, refills our takes, and equips us to go out into the world and bring about the Kindom in new and incredible ways. So church, when it comes to your goals for 2019, go for it! But I want to invite you, all of you, to join me in really trying to carve out sabbath right alongside those goals. Because I really believe (most of the time) that God can do more with six of my days than I can do with seven. And with a six-month-old in the house, tired and worn out seem like pretty accurate descriptions of my life at the moment. So may 2019 be the year I catch a glimpse of the unforced rhythms of grace. And I hope you will too.