Discovering Sabbath Rest

IMG_20150719_130510I’ve been struggling in the last few weeks to find my rhythm. Having been in a wonderful place of resting in God for weeks on end, suddenly I have been dragged from this bliss into ‘the summer holidays’. Cue loud crashing organ music ‘dun-dun-derrrrrr’…

Normally I have planned for the hols with military precision, as we are both working this means organising our diaries very carefully, deciding who is taking which days off, when can the grannies help out, what activities they can be booked into, and so on. This year it was only when my son announced ‘we break up in a week’ that I actually became aware it was about to happen. In fact my response was. ‘no you don’t you’ve got about 3 weeks yet’. Apparently not, as they are now buzzing around the house daily with the joy and exuberance of ones only just released from the monotony of school for 8 long weeks. This is of course a delight and actually it’s more of a delight this year as I get enjoy more of it with them. However the thing that I’m struggling with is the immediacy of going from one extreme to the other. I didn’t really have time to prepare myself mentally or otherwise, and as I’m still having to rest a lot, my days now need to be carefully structured around the kids to avoid boredom setting in, rather than being structured around God. So now I’m at the point of struggling to work out how on earth I can keep hold of this amazing peace and presence of God I’ve been wallowing in, in my daily life, and it’s not easy!

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I recently signed up to Sabbath Society – a group of people committed to finding sabbath rest each week. It’s run by Shelly Miller who you may remember I met at the HTB conference last year as, in a God-incidence, we ended up sitting next to each other and became friends, keeping in touch ‘virtually’ online. This week’s email was my first one and boy did it resound with me, as Shelly talked about a ‘new normal’. She says this:

That new thing God is doing in us cannot be accomplished by continuing to live in the way we’ve always done it. New seasons, new calling, new purpose – they require new rhythms, new risk, new levels of surrender and sacrifice.

We cannot enter into God’s intended rest by continuing to add things to our lives and then pretend life is as it always has been. It’s idealistic and may I suggest, self-sabatoge, to think you will be able to Sabbath when _______.

 

So, I guess I have been trying to work out how life will continue from here. September is looming when things shall truly be ‘back to normal’ in the sense that I shall be back in the office, the kids will be back at school, college will start again and not only do I have to manage that in terms of looking after my back, but I also have to squeeze in new things like: going for physio, doing my back exercises, getting to the gym, all to make sure I don’t injure it again. PLUS the fact that I am determined to retain some of this precious time with God (which actually is no.1 on the list).

and, so, err, HOW ?

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This little corner of my garden has been my refuge in recent times (note my wonderful new ‘back friend’ chair support – so comfy but I do feel like I’m about 90). Being stuck indoors for long periods of time, I have carefully chosen my allotted ‘sitting time’ each day and sat outside whenever I could. From this view point I have watched the garden come into bloom, especially sitting almost amongst the lavender. I have watched as new shoots have appeared from its autumn prune, new vivid lime green buds have appeared and finally the flowers have begun to open. Lavender is a funny thing because it doesn’t so much as bloom as just waft scent into the air. The flowers are so tiny and hardly seem to come out at all so you generally just see the recognisable seed shaped purple ‘pods’. But as I’ve sat watching this plant come into it’s own, I’ve really appreciated seeing the changes each day and this week seeing how much the bumble bees adore it too. This morning I sat for 20 mins waiting to get a shot of a bee on a flower, my phone filled to bursting with blurred yellow and brown streaks as the moment I clicked the bee would be off to the next flower. So busy. Isn’t that the saying, busy as a bee? And yet such a simple life a bee has. It has one goal and it fulfils it with rhythm and with purpose. Growing up I lived next door to a bee farm and one of the joys of my childhood was extracting time when we would go next door and sample bits of honeycomb, still with traces of honey dripping from them, fresh from the hive. But I digress…

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Our lives are always so complicated aren’t they? not just one purpose, as many. So much is expected of us, but we expect so much of ourselves too. And as Shelly noted in her Sabbath post, how we can totally overestimate what we can capably do in any given time slot.

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So the challenge for me is to discover a new normal. I don’t have any idea yet what that will be like and I guess it will evolve as I begin to recover, rather than just being something I decide upon. But as I sat watching the bees this morning I realised that God has it all under control. If I have become the kind of person who can sit for half an hour just watching bees, in the space of a few short weeks, then with God I can accomplish anything, or in fact accomplish nothing, it doesn’t actually matter. I don’t know if my Sabbath rest will be something I can ‘schedule in’ or whether it will simply be a new rule of life,  but one thing’s for sure, things will never be the same again.