We sat in a semi-circle, women in sweats with naked faces; others donning skirts and lipstick. Sunk into couches, shoulder to shoulder with books and bibles sprawled on our laps, watching Margaret talk about Chapter 004: A Sanctuary in Time on the screen. And I prayed for God’s help to contain myself.
For the past fourteen weeks, I’ve invested in the subject of Sabbath with nearly one hundred people. I asked my cohort to lead the small group discussion that morning as protection from monopolizing the conversation. I knew I would have way too much to say. And this snatch of time to settle with generations of women, it isn’t about me.
Suddenly, my friend tilted her head towards me while asking a question, eyebrows arched, gesturing for affirmation. I responded, apologizing for my hesitancy. And then explained why I was holding back. I confessed about the Sabbath Society, the way this chapter led me to initiate it. How the sisterhood is transforming us one week at a time.
When I finished leaving traces of wonder splattered on the cushions, I looked at their stunned faces, and wondered if perhaps I’d forgotten to dress for the day.
I exhaled, apologized for saying too much.
Some asked me how to find out more about the Sabbath Society holding their pens ready.
That morning, we mostly learned about the picture of rest illustrated by the brush strokes of our unique experience. The colors of keeping Sabbath as vast and shaded as the intricacies of creation.
“Can you really just let dishes build up in the sink or walk past a mess scattered on the floor without cleaning it up,” they asked.
“Yes,” I responded. “I don’t think God judges me by how clean I keep my house.” And as we talked about the realities of busy schedules, life seasons, our excuses about why we can’t rest, one strapped with all the exceptions of young motherhood shyly revealed a bold admission.
“I actually take a nap with my children every day,” she admitted smiling with a lack of guilt. Because sometimes the deposit of snuggling with your children or sitting on the couch just because they want you to, yields a greater return than the bold strikes on your to-do list.
As I shared about being wonderstruck on the pilgrimage of Sabbath, seven things rose to surface revealing a startling revelation.
1) Observing Sabbath won’t happen if I don’t plan for it. Just like lunch dates with my girlfriends, if I don’t put it on the calendar, make space for it in my routine, it will never happen.
2) Being organized throughout the week is one of the keys to experiencing the richness of rest.
3) The joy of Sabbath doesn’t necessarily come with a well-crafted routine. It comes with an attitude of freedom; an open heart to hear Him.
4) Taking the time to rest is actually like giving the tithe. I think I can’t afford it, but when I choose it in faith, God actually redeems and lengthens my time during the next week.
5) And when I choose it, that 24-hour period actually informs the rest of my days. Because I can discern His presence more clearly.
6) I really can let go of my house being perfect. God doesn’t care if I leave dishes in the sink overnight.
7) It’s actually a gift to shut down social networking for 24 hours. It lends perspective and clear- headed thinking. And those things I fear I’m missing aren’t as important as I think.
Later that day, a note from a small group member sharing gratitude showed up in my inbox. Admitting to exhaustion, she chose to walk away from an open dishwasher, take the phone off the hook and crash on the couch when her children uncharacteristically took naps at the same time. She felt remarkably better when she awakened. “I feel soooo much better,” she said, “and they are both still asleep. God is literally so good! I’m not wasting any time carving out time for rest.”
The Sabbath song sings sweet in sisterhood. Because even in times of rest, we need each other.
The Sabbath was not created as a day filled with stifling rules and guidelines, but as a gift from God to His beloved people. The Sabbath was not designed as something to be dreaded, but as a time to eagerly anticipate. ~Margaret Feinberg
Today Duane Scott and I are co-hosting a book club and discussion on Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg. Link up your posts on finding the wonder of God in the everyday (they’ll show up on both our sites) and join the discussion in the comments and on our Facebook page throughout the week, Redemptions Beauty Book Club.
BOOK CLUB SCHEDULE
April 17: Chapter 004-005
April 24: Chapter 006-007
May 1: Chapter 008-009
May 8: Chapter 010-Final Thoughts
Every Monday in April, I’ll be giving away a copy of Wonderstruck to one lucky person who leaves a comment at Living the Story, my column at BibleDude.net.
Linking with Emily for Imperfect Prose and Jennifer for Tell His Story.
Lovely, Shelly……Sabbath in the sororitey of sisters…. When I read about the sweet mom napping guiltlessly with her children, I suddenly realized why I don’t have much trouble in taking Sabbath. My mother lives it and always has. She’s lived it during the week as well as on Sunday. She has always taken the time for quiet reflection, slower-paced living, for simply being. My father, on the other hand, worked two full-time jobs for thirteen years of his life, and it cost him dearly (and us). It seems to me that Sabbath is not just about resting our bodies, but resting our minds. I think, perhaps, I’d even go so far as saying that it can be a state of mind, a Sabbath-state-of-mind. And for me,personally, what this slowing adventure has been mostly about is resting in Him. Just at the point that you were starting your Sabbath Society of Sisters, the Lord was whispering to me His invitation of Mt. 11:28, “Come to me you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.” He wasn’t so much asking me to rest from activity as to rest in His ability to bear my burdens…..and my books. I live, eat, and breathe books, and He was telling me to rest from them (during Lent) and leave behind their prescriptives and rest in Him alone and His Word–to rest from them because He would teach me what He wanted me to know–and He has. Thank you for this journey, Shelly, and to dear Margaret, whose wonderful book launched your quest. Rest well, dear one, rest well.
I’ve definitely been through seasons of busyness I had little choice about, thinking primarily of when I put myself through college and during the early years of my children’s lives when rest seemed elusive. But there are always moments when we can choose to step away from something to unwind. I haven’t always been good at that and I admit now that my children are rising toward adulthood and more independence, rest is easier to find. I was just so inspired by this young Mom who was choosing it during a season when most of us don’t. Very wise indeed.
I think we have cheated ourselves when we don’t do Sabbath. I am as guilty as everyone else, we have slid it into just another day off, but it’s not. It’s different than every other day and you are right, unless we plan it, it won’t happen. Something about Sundown on Saturday….the slowing down that is so tantalizing. We have been so programmed to keep going no matter what……Thank you. Lori
I agree, Lori, there is something about sundown on Saturday for me now too. I actually think I start breathing slower.
Well, all of them. But #4 really struck me in its depth of truth.
For me too Jennifer. And it’s true how God redeems and blesses what we give in sacrifice.
I am so rejoicing with you in this, Shelly! That the Surrendering to Sabbath Sisterhood is spreading freedom further and further. What joy!
As for the mom who got brave enough to take a nap (why should this be such a problem for us, even when we desperately need it and the kids are all asleep? Who’s driving us like this? Not Him!)… That was one gift I managed to give myself as a single parent, at least when I was home during the day to do it: even though my toddler hardly ever slept in “naptime,” and I often didn’t, we routinely took a half hour for solitary quiet. Later, when I was homeschooling two lively boys, we did the same, and oh, what a difference that made to the rest (heh) of the afternoon!
Making every effort to enter His rest,
I know Sylvia, why is it such a problem for us to take a nap when we are desperately tired? Like the world will label us lazy . . .or something.
Just to keep things real—I.blew.it.BIG.time. last Sabbath but I learned something through it all. I am linking my blog above (BTW it doesn’t mention the mess I made last Saturday). This is my first link up in a long time. Praying for you as you speak this weekend and get to hang out in real life with some of my favorite bloggers. Have fun.
Thank you so much for your prayers Dea, it makes me feel better just knowing you will be interceding on my behalf. Wish you were going. And yay to you linking up. She’s back, she’s back. Can you see me twirling now?
Yes, I’m praying and only using three words, Speak through Shelly 🙂
You hit it spot on… “Observing Sabbath won’t happen if I don’t plan for it.” We have to be intentional about carving out time for rest. A challenge that Leif and I continue to wrestle with each week.
It has to be intentional doesn’t it? There is way too much stuff to compete with time. Thanks for inspiring me toward it. It’s not only changing me but impacting a whole group of people.
I’ve been working to make my Sundays less stressful myself, so it is interesting to read your post on the subject. I definitely agree that we have to plan ahead in order for our Sundays to have less work in them. (I gave up having big Sunday dinners and eat takeout and nap instead.)
Jerri, would love to have you join us in Surrendering to Sabbath. If you want to join the group go to my Sabbath Society page and add your email address for the weekly email.
I didn’t write about Sabbath this week, because I knew you and others probably would. I’m so excited about what has been going on, both here and in your real-life small group. My pastor has a passion for reminding us in his congregation of how deeply God cares about the Sabbath. And how good it is for our own souls to remember it.
Had to be different huh? No, actually I think it’s good that some write on something different. So glad your linking up and you shared that perfume on the FB page. Too funny. I’ve really enjoyed your posts Nancy.
Today I really didnt do anything but rest from my goings and doings…. feels good to just chill out!
So glad you gave yourself permission Starla.
Praise God that He designed us for rest and rewards us for it through fellowship with Him and being able to hear His still, small voice. Thanks for the beautiful post & photos & for hosting, & God bless.
#4 of your Sabbath revelations caught my attention. Often through the years God had proven His faithfulness to us in amazing ways, as my husband and I have tithed. He has indeed stretched our income to cover more than could be expected. Why wouldn’t he do the same with our time? Thank you, Shelly, for lovingly, honestly, and winsomely drawing us into a more intentional Sabbath Rest.
P.S. Just so you know, I’ve been out of commission for a couple of weeks, first with a flu bug (in spite of a flu shot), then a secondary bacterial infection. It was all I could do to keep up with posting during this second phase, much less commenting. Hopefully the siege is over!
Shelly this is so good. In many ways I wish I could rewind and recapture this mindset, this way of thinking. The permission to rest and even the encouragement to do so it beautifully woven here. And as with everything and anything of value, the intentionality is key. Love this and its freeing nature — it is important to share this concept with others. Another one of His brilliant ideas 🙂