Sabbath! It was a gift of rest from the hand of God. Wasn’t it just that simple? I had always “done” Sunday, and loved every minute of going to church and enjoying a restful afternoon.
But now, I was devouring the subject, tracing the steps through scripture, and beginning to see something else. The gift of Sabbath was both deep and wide: Sunday and more. It was a life with Sabbath monogrammed onto it. But if this was true, then how, in my world would I open it? The question hammered hard … chipped chunks out of my long “to do” list…pounded my peace.
Sabbath living, I saw, was everyday life/work done from a restful, trusting spirit. It wasn’t only Sunday–the gift was bigger than that. It was all of life with God center stage, not behind the curtains. Scripture made it plain enough. It was stopping “the train” along the weekday way. It was noticing. It was being. It was God’s idea, and ribboned throughout scripture: a life lived from a restful heart. It teased me forward. So why did I know virtually nothing about a “sabbath-kind-of” life during the week? Something had to give. My story continues…..
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Life was perpetual everything..…I was 40, and at the top of my game. Things needed to change. I was all about work, producing, running, serving, family this, friends, that, and church, church, church. I loved what I was doing. Carbon copy life. Poster child of too much and too many. Do it all, and do it now. Hurry up. My motto was “more” My creed was “faster”. For months and days and years I did the all-American “ work thing”. And a smelly cavity was beginning to devour my soul.
My spirit groaned. My body ached. My temper flared. My soul shrank.
I met God on Sunday morning, and tossed Him a kiss the rest of the week, even as I served Him virtually full time, and with all my might. It was what we all did.
As life pinched harder and harder, soul cracks became soul craters. I was thirsty for God but there was only a trickle of water. It’s all I allowed! Something had to change. So I began to find small ways to quench my thirst.
At first, I took small interludes alone with God. I didn’t know where it would lead. It didn’t really matter. I knew I had to jam on the brakes or expect a train wreck. God had to become larger and largest in my life. So I started small.
While running errands, I would wheel into our church parking lot beside the small lake peppered with ducks and alive with fountains of water. It reminded me how thirsty I really was. I’d “brown bag it” at the gazebo on the lush grounds. I’d reflect. And I’d pray.
Other days, in the middle of it all, I’d drive to the country, listening to music. Again, I’d search for quiet, holy places. And holy places came: a cemetery, a lake, a beach overlook. I began to find spots everywhere. My times were short: 10 to 30 minutes. I gulped peace…guzzled rest. I gasped at the surprising Presence of God. I received the Sabbath pressed late upon me by the loving invitation of God. “Come…unto me.”
Over the months, sabbath interludes became longer with less space between. Wrinkled soul craters began to plump out and beam health. Family noticed and grinned. I noticed. God noticed. Had He been waiting for me to “come out and play” at life more, notice more, rest more?
Shot through with desire by this time, I thirsted for more Sabbath time. I couldn’t stop. Sabbath had happily shimmied into every morning by now. Yes! Every day Sabbath! Trysts with God (called devotions). But even that wasn’t enough. Sabbaths began to morph into monthly, full-day retreats at a nearby spiritual retreat center. Sabbaths had become my spiritual life line.
“Is that sustainable?” a young woman asked me? Yes, and yes, and a thousand yeses. It’s the other life that isn’t .
Eventually, on a winter of days, I wrote a book I called “Interludes. By then I had found way over 50 ways to experience rich Sabbaths in my life, and eagerly shared most of them in this book.
But that was just a beginning. Next, God strove mightily with my heart for other women. He wanted me to open my own home for private day retreats for women who were thirsty for Sabbath time alone with Him. I juggled that around for awhile because it seemed so foreign an idea.
I would prepare the home. They would come. I would go away and leave them alone with the Lord. I questioned this call, because “no one else was doing it”. There was no blueprint. But I did prepare the home. And they have come. For over 10 years, God has sent “just enough”. Not too many. Not too few. Over 100 women have come, and God has met them at the door. They have drunk from the well. And some now host retreats in their homes.
Sabbath! Glorious, delicious, wonder-filled gift of God! And to think….it can begin in a tub!
More ideas for succulent sabbaths will be appearing each week. Care to come along?