As we find ourselves in the last month of summer, it is a perfect time to pause, reflect, and review how our summer has been thus far. Has it been restorative, or has it just worn us out? In our fast-paced and hectic lives, it is essential to take moments of rest and refreshment, especially during this season of warmth and leisure. As we look to the Scriptures, we discover the profound importance of Sabbath, God's rest, and the invitation to find renewal in His presence. Even more so, we see that the Lord orchestrates seasons for his people to rest more deeply than others. I am reminded, in particular, of Elijah journeying to Mt. Horeb and being asked to take not one, but two moments of rest under the broom tree (1 Kings 19:3-5).
Ever since I was in school, I have found the summers to be something that are looked forward to for just a change of pace in life, that are meant to hold a ready excuse to go to ease. The fact that there are seasons of our lives where relaxation is meant to be sought so that when the programmatic year starts up in the fall, that we are ready to greet it.
The Scriptures provide us with timeless wisdom about the importance of stillness and resting in God's time. In Psalm 46:10, we are reminded, "Be still, and know that I am God." This verse, among many others, calls us to quiet our souls, release our anxieties, and rest in God's timing. In our rush, we may miss the subtle guidance and tender whispers of the Holy Spirit, but by setting aside the often-frenetic pace of the year, we create space to listen to God's voice.
Jesus himself demonstrated the value of stillness and solitude in His earthly ministry. In Mark 1:35, it is written, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." In the midst of His busy ministry and the demands of the crowds, Jesus sought quiet moments of communion with His Heavenly Father. He understood the importance of drawing strength from prayer and rest, and even more, drawing strength from rest, so that he could be present to the ministry that would be asked of him.
The practice of Sabbath rest is deeply rooted in the Scriptures. In Exodus 20:8-10, God commands, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God." By observing the Sabbath, we honor God's design for our lives and acknowledge our need for spiritual and physical renewal. The sabbath is meant to work like a mini summer every single week. However, if we are not even taking our summer at a slower pace, how can we expect ourselves to honor our weekly time of rest?
Embracing the "elimination of hurry" may require intentional effort, but the rewards are immeasurable. Here are some practical steps we can take to cultivate stillness and peace in our lives:
- Create Daily Quiet Time: Set aside a few minutes each day for prayer, meditation, and Scripture reading to connect with God.
- Limit Distractions: Identify activities that contribute to unnecessary hurry and consider reducing or eliminating them from our routines. Turn your notifications OFF on your phone...and only check it when it works in your schedule. Just because someone barges into our life, doesn’t mean that it must be addressed immediately.
- Simplify Commitments: Prioritize our commitments and avoid overloading our schedules. Embrace the freedom that comes from saying "no" to non-essential activities. I have been horrible with this but wish that I was better. To simply say, “you know what, I have a free night tonight... and I am just going to putz around the house, I don’t need to fill it with things... rest actually is a thing.”
- Enjoy Simple Pleasures: Engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as reading a good book, spending time in nature appreciating God's creation, or enjoying a leisurely meal.
As we seek to eliminate unnecessary hurry from our lives, let us remember that God's gift of rest in this season is meant to allow us refreshment. By embracing stillness and rest, we open our hearts to experience God's presence more profoundly, along with genuinely appreciating the gift of the day that we have at hand.