Welcome to summer! Did the last few weeks wreak havoc on anybody else’s world?
I definitely lost a few things, including kids shoes, sunglasses, and most frustratingly, my flexibility.
Physically, I had set aside much of my regular healthy activity as we welcomed a 3-month-old into our home. Training for our foster care certification was no small task. After that, life with a baby in the home was no small transition. My workout and healthy eating goals became distant memories. Stretching to touch my toes comes with a lot more effort.
Spiritually, I became rigid in my prayers. I kept censoring how I came before the throne of God, calculating the “right” things to pray for as we entered a system of brokenness called foster care. I battled my first-instincts and deeply rooted selfishness as I both bonded with our baby and prayed for his biological mother’s health and safety. So I got strict with my emotions there too.
Mentally, I felt I needed to choose love—on purpose—with discipline and determination. To lean in when I wanted to pull away. It felt like our whole life had become a raw nerve, exposed and unprotected. I had to choose constant consciousness of the hand of Christ around my heart, around our twins and marriage, and around our foster son. I needed to sure up my mind. But sometimes setting your mind on things above can give you a spiritual neck ache.
Sadly, my most obvious inflexibility was in my parenting. Our four-year-old twins heard “no” a lot. I grappled for control in our home to compensate for not having it elsewhere, and quickly became over-bearing. The eggshells were laid out, and the kids learned quickly to tiptoe around them. Just a few weeks of structure, I told them, then we can really enjoy summer without too much chaos.
All good intents. All necessary focuses. But somewhere along the last 6 weeks, I got tight. Body and soul all cramped up.
Do you sense the same emotional or spiritual rigor mortis? The tightening of trust muscles and calf muscles? The stiffness of under-stretched faith and over-worked self-sufficiency?
I think it’s time we put some sabbath in our sinews.
God’s word reminds us of this gift of sabbath rest:
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God…“Exodus 20:8-10 NLT
Before Sabbath was a pharisaical rule, it was a gift for former slaves. Slaves don’t get days off. Sons and daughters do.
Rest is the reminder that we are not slaves—to our ambitions, to approval, to earning our own salvation, or even to living your best life. We are sons and daughters who are given the gift of margin to enjoy our Father.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”Matthew 11:28 NLT
As J.D. Greear points out: “Those most mature in Jesus are not those working hardest for him but those resting best in him.”
Let’s add some margin to our days, to our constant mental processing, and even to our bones. Let’s stop this insanity of Sabbath-skipping and start making space.
Here’s one practice I use weekly, if not daily:
Stretch and Pray
Find a Pilates or yoga video, recall old stretches from gym class or your years on the volleyball team.
Hold each pose or stretch for 4 prayer-breaths:
- Lord, you are worthy.
- I am dependent on you.
- Open my heart and mind.
- I want more of you, Jesus.
Or something like that. The repetitive practice catalyzes a deeper sense of conviction about God’s sovereignty, and my state of being held by Him. And as I stretch faith muscles and physical ones, my breath comes easier, my tension relaxes, and my rigid need for control eases.
Are you ready to open up to such grace? Take a day, or an hour, or 15 minutes and stop trying to be all-sufficient and trust the One who is.
And if you live near Sheridan, Wyoming, consider joining one of my guided meditation classes throughout the year. I’ll give you a living, breathing example of what this looks like so you can incorporate it into your weekly or daily connecting time with Christ.
Cheering you on,
P.S.: there is so much more to the Biblical practice of observing the Sabbath than I had room to explore here. It is not only a gift, but also a command. Take a gander at this article to learn more!