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Sunday grace

Selah.

What an unusual Hebrew word in Scripture. It is one which scholars cannot completely agree upon the meaning. Some say it is a musical term, others a liturgical signifier.

Often it is interpreted as “pause and think about it.”

We aren’t much to pause in our vigorous culture. We rush. We multitask. We move from one assignment to another, sometimes on auto-pilot. We accomplish much and travel far, but pausing is not on the agenda.

We fall into bed at night, exhausted, hoping to sleep just enough so we can begin the race again tomorrow.

What if we paused more often? Paused to view the sunrise in the morning. Paused to taste breakfast. Paused to listen to more than the words being spoken. Paused to give thanks for being able to move and work and think. Paused enough to enjoy the blessing of sleep. Paused to hear the still small voice of the Spirit.

Life is not an emergency, though we treat it as if it is sometimes.

 

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Music needs a rest to emphasise the notes played. The rests in music make the remainder of the song more beautiful.

Today, pause. Rest. Take a deep breath. Worship with your heart in it. Sing your song out loud as you move to its rhythm. Hug your people long. Look into someones eyes and hear what the heart is trying to say.

Selah. Pause and think about this good life God has given you.

Sunday grace.

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Permission to rest

Rest has not always been on my list of things to do. More likely in years past, I tried to see how little of it I needed. But no longer. I have wised up. I value a good night’s sleep. I enjoy sitting with afternoon coffee. I relish time at the table with friends and loved ones.

In our face-paced living, perhaps we need to rethink rest and give ourselves permission to do it more often. We might live longer; we might be happier; it might improve our relationships; and just possibility, we could experience a whole different kind of Christmas.

I enjoy Holley Gerth’s writings, and today she speaks to my heart. I hope you will read her wise words, posted here, and allow yourself and those around you to have a restful holiday season.

HOLLEY GERTH: What Can You Give Yourself this Christmas?

Rest can be an act of worship.

Monday grace

My devotional theme yesterday morning was about resting, and it took me to a familar passage, Psalm 23.

Sometimes things old and familiar can be common and ordinary if we are not careful.

I didn’t need to turn to the Psalm. I’ve known it by heart since a child, learned in Children’s Church when rewards were given for memorizing. Whatever works, and it worked for me.

As I quoted the verses by heart, I noticed afresh how they speak of resting.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I have all I need. I don’t have to concern myself with working for salvation or be consumed with the cares of life.

He makes me lie down. Why is it so hard to cease from our busy schedules and relax, be refreshed?

He leads me beside still waters. The rushing waters are beautiful and powerful, but the still waters invite me in to its gentle flowing.

He restores my soul. How I need this. Jesus tender touch on a weary brow, a heart that is broken, a soul that has drifted.

He leads me in paths of righteousness. This is His path, not one of my own making. His path is the right way.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Fear has torment and is the enemy’s tool. No matter the place I must go, my Shepherd is with me.  He is good and He is strong. He replaces anxiety with His very own peace.

Your rod and Your staff. Comforting tools of the shepherd are there to protect and guard, to guide and rescue.

You prepare a table for me. I love it when someone invites me over, prepares the food, and tells me to sit and enjoy. I am the pampered guest, and I feel loved.

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My cup runs over. Not “just enough” but more than enough. Christ’s love is everlasting, His mercies are ever new, His compassion fails not.

Goodness and mercy will follow me. I don’t have to chase them down and beg. They are pursuing me with the graciousness of my God.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord. Ah, here is the ultimate rest, to be absent from this body and present with my Lord. I am a member of the family and will make myself at home.

Because I will be Home. And nothing says rest to me like home.our house by Elyse

P.S. I took this Paslm to heart so much yesterday that I rested from from Sunday grace and technology.

 

 

 

June begins

June, the month of summer. Children are out of school, and I hear them across the fields at their play.

I remember being a kid in summer, constantly outside in play and adventure. We swam until we got hungry. We played board games on the porch at my aunt and uncle’s house when the sun got too hot. I don’t remember ever getting bored. There were fields to roam, projects to construct, neighbors to call for ball games in empty lots, and dinner with the family each evening.

There was church on Sundays and mid-week when one of my friends could come stay with us a few days and then return at next service time. Our annual church convention brought an overnight stay in a motel, a sort of vacation for us. And there was a week at youth camp, up in the mountains where the days were sweltering and nights made us pull on the blankets. Open aired cabins with bunk beds were the places for making friends. The girls wore their hair in curlers all day long, our heads wrapped in scarves, so we could look pretty for church at night.

They were wonderful days.

Some call it the lazy days of summer. Having grown into an adult, I’ve not lived a lazy life. Circumstances beyond my control loaded me with responsibility. It has been my lot to move, to get things done. I stayed on task and accomplished as much as possible in a day, often falling into bed exhausted just to set the alarm to begin it all over again tomorrow.

This month of June seems like an invitation, like a Sabbath calling me.  There are no piano lessons this month. An upcoming procedure will keep us close to home. No travel plans ahead. My calendar is looking strangely blank.

Something calls to me to rest, to sit idle, to be still. My body feels it, the pull to nurture myself; to wander instead of power walk; to tread gently in the gardens and enjoy the summer beauty without focusing on the weeds; to spend time with books and to play the piano for the pure pleasure of it.

I am reading Wendell Berry’s New Collected Poems. He is a Kentucky native and a lover of the land, like I am. He writes:

“The aged voices of a few crickets thread the silence. It is a quiet I love, though my life too often drives me through it deaf. Busy with costs and losses, I waste the time I have to be here–a time blessed beyond my deserts, and I know, if only I would keep aware. The leaves rest in the air, perfectly still. I would like them to rest in my mind as still, as simply spaced.”     — The Sorrel Filly

This is what I am craving – the quiet I love. I’ve lived under pressure many days. I’ve rushed from one appointment to another, driving in the fast lane. I’ve made the long lists of things that needed to be done, and I’ve checked them off one by one.

It will be challenging for me to slow. I hesitate to even write it here, like I’m making a promise, a promise to myself. It is my nature to do things, and there is always, always something to do. But I am compelled to pursue what pursues me. Perhaps it is the Spirit calling me to come away, to listen for the hushed calm, to be still and know my God.

[Jesus] said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while”—for there were many people who were continually coming and going, and they could not even find time to eat.”  — Mark 6:31, AMP

I can linger on the deck in the early morning, before the thermostate rises high enough to send me indoors. I can sip my coffee slowly, because it never get too hot for coffee. I can listen carefully without distration. I can be observant, looking deeply at the flower or at the face in front of me. I can hear what my heart has to say.  I can ponder the questions that mystify me. I can be quiet.

I can choose to make June a month of rest, a Sabbath. And I shall see what joy awaits me that I might have missed in my hurrying.

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Sunday grace

God planned rest for the weary soul, the one whose energy is spent, whose mind is full to the brim with responsibilities, cares and burdens, and a to-do list that runneth over.

He gives us Sabbath.

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For the Jewish people, preparations are made the day before; work will be laid aside. The candles will be lit at sundown and Sabbath declared as the prayer is recited:

Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who hallows us with mitzvot [commands of God], commanding us to kindle the light of Shabbat.

Sometimes the running to and fro, the busy schedules, the work that simply never gets finished become more than we can bear.

Sometimes the cares of life, the search for happiness, the seeking after something else, something more, pulls our minds into the darkness, and the road ahead looks fearful.

Sometimes the effort to be perfect or, at the very least acceptable, and the striving to be all things to all people weighs us down.

We realize we cannot finish the tasks. We are depleted.

We forget Adonai our God is Sovereign Lord of the universe. And Sovereign Lord over us.

And so Sabbath comes to offer rest.

This day, take off the backpack of overload. Rest in the completed grace of Jesus’s full salvation. Trust the Father with the ones you love. Believe He has a plan and is working all things for your good and His glory.

He is the Shepherd and we shall not want. He is our Peace and our Righteousness and offers Himself to us. He is the God who sees us right where we are. He is the One who loves us with a tender compassion and mercies inexhaustible.

Rest today, dear one. Rest in Him.

 Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens. –Matthew 11:28-30, Living New Testament

Sunday grace.

 

Sunday grace

Early Sunday morning is quiet as we leisurely walk the lane, Maisie and I. The bird song is all we hear. I hesitate to speak and break the sacred silence.

I notice things in the slowness of this morning. Random spider webs, a night’s endeavors, lie low in the grass or higher up in the bushes. The mist rises from the lake, moving gently across its surface, in no hurry to go. The coolness of the morning is relief after sweltering days.

In my hurry, I easily miss the moments.

Children teach us. They dawdle. They keep no time schedules. They “waste time” with what draws their attention, until an adult says, “Hurry up. We’ll be late.”

We really do need to be more like children.

Our mantra shouts to us. Be productive. Get more done. Work harder. Fill the schedule with one more activity. We can do it!

Wasting time is not on the agenda.

 

Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller (coming in October)

Time is spent one way or another. The finite number of moments we have can be used how we choose. We can hurry it away with activity, or we can slow down, see and hear. We can enjoy and find joy.

It may seem like wasting time when we rest, when we stop, when we do nothing. But perhaps it is the best use of time at the particular juncture. Perhaps it gives our souls time to catch up.

“Teach us to number our days carefully,” Moses prayed, “so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”

The people of Israel moved when the pillars of fire or cloud called them to go. Then they stopped because God’s sign of His presence rested.

God knows we need that.

Take time, some of your valuable, precious time to waste away and enjoy the rest He gives.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

The roller coaster ride of activity is exciting, the adrenaline pumping hard, heart rate accelerating, and we fly. Keep going. Stay on the coaster for another round.

But sometimes we need to get off, sit on the bench and eat ice cream.

God gave the Sabbath as a gift to man.

Rest is good. It is necessary. Sleep is restorative. Our bodies, our health depend on the stops we take.

Let your mind rest. Jesus completed all the work necessary for your salvation. He said, “It is finished.”

Let your soul rest. You are greatly loved and accepted through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Let your body rest. We are three in one, and what happens in our flesh affects the whole of us.

Honor the Sabbath somehow today, this week, and acknowledge the gift of God. He is the one who never slumbers or sleeps. He is the one who carries the weight of the world. He is the one who plans and brings those things into  existence.

Exodus 33:14 “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

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