Staring out the sash window I washed vigorously last week, I watch drips of rain cry on clear panes. Curtain panels dance as wind rattles the frame and howls through the cracks. Beyond, an ivy drape of verdant spades flutter furiously on vines when violent gusts blow through the garden. Wiping my index finger across a layer of black grit on the window ledge above the couch, the dust implores me to remember who I am and why I need a Savior.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts. Psalm 103:13-18
Precepts. It’s a word used about as often as blustery to describe the weather. A word that began my journey into Sabbath-keeping when I first read it from Psalm 111 on a quiet morning, while a bird choir serenaded me from tree branches.
All his precepts are trustworthy ultimately translated as this: Sabbath is trustworthy. You can trust me with rest.
I didn’t fully believe in Sabbath as God’s generous gift until I began trusting him with doubts about relinquishing time. Because faith without action is not really faith and wishful thinking cultivates stagnancy.
Today on Ash Wednesday, we begin our pilgrimage through A Sabbath Journey for Lent, an eBook I wrote as a gift to you, my dear reader.
Maybe for you, this day is just another middle of the week hump leading to more of the mundane. The thought of sacrificing one more blessed thing makes you feel as though you might fall into a heap and melt into the concrete.
Consider this: What if Ash Wednesday comes with a divine invitation attached? Begin again without jumping through more spiritual hoops. Stop striving, choose rest, and remember the sacrifice of Christ anew.
Set time apart to meet with God and see how he blesses every blessed minute you have breath.
Forgetfulness is the cost of choosing not to rest. Forget who you are and why you work in the first place.
My challenge for you is this. Over the next forty days, once a week, give up a day of keeping busy for abiding with Jesus through rest. Forget being consumed with matters of the body to focus on matters of the spirit. By resting a specific part of your body each week, allow God to bring fresh revelation, meaning and purpose, especially during the unexpected storms of life.
Empty time and allow God to fill the space.
Release inner turbulence swirling through your soul into God’s capable hands. Through the cracks of our brokenness the Light of Christ breaks into the mess.
But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Be not so terribly angry, O Lord,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people. Isaiah 64: 8-9
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Download this printable March calendar for encouragement to persevere with prompts from Chapter Three in Rhythms of Rest. And join the Sabbath Society, a community of thousands who say, “I’m all in,” when it comes to making rest realistic instead of miraculous.
As we rest our eyes, words, feet, ears, mind, and hands, which part of the body do you think you will struggle with resting the most? Tell me in the comments.
For many years I have practiced rest on the Sabbath. We go to church as a family, have a light lunch and then I do nothing. Now, I may pick up sticks, mow a little grass if my husband asks me to but I do no laundry and rarely cook or clean. For the most part I sit. Those who know me well know I don’t do much on Sundays. I have recently began seeing a Christian counselor which has brought to the surface many deep emotions. Not hard to answer your question……my mind(brain) will be without a doubt the most difficult part of the body to rest. Next in line will be my heart.
My family knows that Sundays are for fixing your own lunch and heating up leftovers for dinner Lisa, your Sunday Sabbath resembles mine. I think the mind is definitely the hardest one for me too. I pray that that we will both learn how to rest our swirling thoughts and trust Jesus with them more deeply. Glad you are on the Lenten journey!
I believe resting my mind will be the hardest for me. No matter what I am doing – my mind is constantly in motion. Even when I am sitting perfectly still, my mind is constantly daydreaming, planning, reviewing, observing, processing. I am not sure that I have ever intentionally tried to rest my mind the way I purpose to rest my body. I am committing to focus on Philippians 4: 8 (“From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise.” CEB) as a way to quiet and rest my mind each Sabbath throughout the Lenten season.
You are not alone Cassandra. I pray that A Sabbath Journey for Lent is good practice in learning how to quiet the mind. And you’ve given me some food for thought with your comment. Thank you!
Thank you for this post. It goes with some other reading I have been doing so God is beginning to confirm some things to me. I have to say the the hardest part for me to still will be my mind. I have the hardest time with that. I can wake up in the night and bam! there goes that mind. It gets rolling over this and that. Past or present and I can forget getting back to sleep. Or in the day time, if something good or bad happens, I just keep holding on to it and churning it over and over in my mind. I have been learning about “Be still” in the Bible meaning “to cease”. Yes, I am thinking that it will be a real battle to still my mind. Pray that I can with God’s help finally learn to do this.
I love the way God send sacred echoes of his nearness. Lovely that this blog post is one of those for you Doris. I’m praying with you! Lovely to have you on the Sabbath Journey for Lent..
I agree: it is most difficult for me to quiet my mind. Cassandra (above) is on the right track, I think. We can choose activities that occupy our minds with things true, right, lovely, excellent, etc.. For me, reading, journaling, and crafting are three restful activiaties that take my mind off planning, processing, mental-listing, etc. ‘Loved this statement of yours, Shelly: “Empty time and allow God to fill the space.” Imagine. The Almighty God actually desires to fill the space we make for him–with all he is! Incredible to contemplate.
I’ve been really contemplating what it means to quiet the mind without checking out or numbing. In a world of constant “noise” and stimulation, it’s truly a feat to quiet the mind. Thanks for being here Nancy!
God has shown me that I need to rest my eyes from books! Eek! And my ears too because I’ve been listening to them on audio. It’s definitely going to a challenge for me. Engagement is the place where God is leading me rather than abstinence. Practicing Sabbath lends itself to either abstaining or engaging. It is such a beautiful gift. Thank you for teaching me so much about God’s heart for the Sabbath and for leading us to rest well in the season of Lent.
Oh gosh, I don’t know if you remember but I did that one Lent a few years ago. I was horrified when I felt God ask me to do that but it turned out okay of course.
I think my eyes will be hardest for me to give them rest. I love to read! I also spend a lot of time on the computer. Yet, one of the things I have enjoyed most recently is my acupuncture doctor offers during treatment to put a soft lavender scented eye pillow over my eyes. For that 1/2 hour or so, my eyes are in bliss, just resting! Yes, I think my eyes desperately need a day of rest. Thanks for sharing this idea of resting body parts, shelly!
I love to read too Janet!! It will be interesting to see how people interpret resting their eyes. It might be more unique than we first assume.
Such a blessing; this post.
Thank you for being such a wonderful gift of God in my life, speaking truth with such love.
Praying for you, and thanking God for you.