Let me just confess this right here at the beginning… This last stop on our Golden Hour Tour of beautiful words and sacred practices is not one I frequent enough. I am a poor tour guide, the blind leading the blind. The residents here do not know my name or recognize my face as I step off of the fast moving train breathless. Rest. Here is a vulnerable truth about me… I still haven’t learned to rest well.
But I want to. Or at least I want to want to.
After we have Savored every last drop out our “lot in life” blessings, those common beautiful graces, and after we have recognized, remembered, and reclaimed Celebration from the world, then we must rest to do it all again (repeat).
In a world that has hijacked rest as much as celebration, what does real, soul-restorative rest look like for the people of God? Very few Scriptures have impacted my life in the last year as much as the Message’s version of Matthew 11:28-30. Slow down, breathe this in deeply, and picture it as a balm being poured over the cracked places in your spirit as you read this divine prescription for rest:
“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.” Matthew 11:28-30
Real rest is not found in the lies or trappings of the world… in the Netflix bingeing, or sleeping late, or even the vacation in the fancy hotel. None of those things are wrong, and they can certainly be savored and celebrated! But when your soul is fatigued to the point of exhaustion, you will still be worn thin when the show is over, the alarm finally goes off, check-out time comes.
Real rest can only be found in Jesus.
We have to watch how he does it, like Matthew 11 says. We watch how he savors a breakfast of grilled fish on the beach, early morning chats with His father, friendships with the simplest of people. We watch how he turns water into a divine vintage at a wedding celebration. We watch how he participates in the feasts and festivals of his culture and how he brings others in close and rejoices with them as well. And then we watch how he rests… how his earthly life was simply following the Holy Spirit from one place to the next, from one life to the next.
Over the last 6 months I have been neck deep studying the Biblical principles of Fruitfulness. One of the most interesting concepts I came access was the idea of the Sabbatical year for the land itself.
Leviticus 25:1-7 says, “The Lord said to Moses at Most Sinai, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them, ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you – for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired workers and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.”
I love how practical our God is. He knew all about water levels, PH balances, and nutrient deficiencies in the soil centuries before farmers ever would. He knew there was wisdom in letting a field go fallow for a year, in taking a rest… and He always has a spiritual truth for us in the physical. Think of the faith it took for the Israelites to be obedient to this command. Most families only had one field. If they weren’t growing crops on it, there was not grocery store. This was it. Their land, their one field, was their source of sustenance. Their crops, their harvest was their life. Could they trust that the sowing and laboring of past seasons would provide enough of a harvest in the resting?
The same is true for us. We can only rest when we have learned to trust. We trust that God will provide, that we don’t have to hustle for everything in life, that we don’t have to make it all happen or that we won’t fall apart in the fallow season. He has promised not to lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on us. We can trust the harvest because we can trust our God.
So, October was a whirlwind for me. I was honored to speak at 2 out-of-town retreats and another local women’s night. We also CELEBRATED fall in a big way with our 4th annual Family Fall Festival, inviting the whole city to the Ranchito. I have committed to projects I haven’t started yet. My kids are taking gymnastics, playing basketball, and rehearsing Nutcracker 20+ hours a week. There isn’t a night off right now. At the dawn of November I felt myself circling the drain… running on empty, forsaking what matters, unreasonably affected by the smallest thing. I began to believe some old lies… “You can’t handle this.” “Quit trying to be more than you are.” “Close the gates. The sacrifice for community is too much. No one cares.” My levels were off and nutrients low, just like the Israelite’s fields.
Time to rest.
I’ve taken a few practical steps in the last couple of weeks. I have made peace with the term “self-care” in measured quantities. (See, I even typed the word without rolling my eyes. Progress). I joined a Yoga studio and am giving myself the gift of something I really love. I have released hosting Thanksgiving. I have visited a friend who practices wholistic healing and let her do a little work on me, body and spirit. I literally have “breathe and pray” and “HYGGE” on my daily to-do lists. I am preaching rest to all of you so please hold me accountable as well.
The Golden Hour is coming to a close. I can see the last rays of its sunset melting away. The dawning of the next season will be wonderful, “the most wonderful time of the year” in fact. But it will have a different pace. For all the Hallmark commercials and hot cocoa propaganda, we women know. We know that for every beautiful meal, every perfectly (or imperfectly) decorated home, for every gift under the tree, and Christmas card sent, there is a woman staying up late into the night planning, baking, working, wrapping, and addressing. And we love it. And it is worth it. But it can leave us circling the drain as well.
So I pray the treasures we have found on this tour of beautiful words and sacred practices stay close at hand through the holidays. I pray we will savor all of our “lot in life” blessings, those common graces and we will view all that the coming months bring through a HYGGE filter. I pray that we will reclaim celebration, especially during the Advent season… that we will build alters and remember and celebrate others really well. And I pray that we will find rest when our spirits are circling the drain of exhaustion. That we will simply watch how Jesus did it and trust in a God that commands a sabbath.