I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. The holidays have ended, vacations have ended and an entire year of our lives has ended. Endings are melancholy and twinged with regret. Facing an entire unknown new year is also disconcerting. Big changes can happen over the course of a year. And that can be a bad thing.
Of course it can also be a good thing. And that’s why I also love a new year. A fresh start. A new calendar with all the happy memories still to be made and all the satisfying goals still to accomplish. There’s things to look forward to and new friends to meet and new things to learn.
And always, new habits to (try to) form.
One habit Jeremy and I are working on is the practice of Sabbath. Pastor Jay is preaching on the importance of adding Sabbath in 2023. We got a jump start and have spent the last month “sabbathing” for one day a week.
Know what we’ve discovered?
It seems nonsensical, but seriously: rest is hard work.
It’s hard work because it’s counterintuitive. And it’s countercultural. And iit’s counter to my very nature.
Counterintuitive. I remember asking before I ventured into this Sabbath-business, “Can you convince me it will make me more productive?” How can resting for one day improve my effectiveness the rest of the week? Can getting less done help me get more done?
And that’s why it’s countercultural. Culture tells us the busier we are, the better we are. We are better employees if we are still responding to work emails at 10PM. We are better humans the more we multitask. We are better parents if our kids are involved in multiple sports, musical instruments and other enrichment activities.
I’m not judging. I think busy is better. I do! I find my identity in my work. And that is why Sabbath goes against my very nature. “Who am I, if I am not the things I do?” Who am I if I’m not achieving, producing, serving or working? Do I even have worth apart from my accomplishments?
And ultimately, answering that question is why Sabbath is hard work. Answering that question is very hard spiritual work. The kind of hard work which requires seriousness of mind, humility, deep introspection, and prayer.
The kind of hard work that may take 1/7 of the rest of my life to process.
Some of you right now are thinking, “I have enough that’s hard in my life, thank you very much, I’m gonna take a hard pass.” I understand.
But please just remember, spiritual development is never neutral. We are never just coasting. We are either transforming into the likeness of Christ, or we are being conformed to the pattern of the world.
So, if I am really serious about my soul and if I’m really serious about my relationship with God, I need to do this work. I need to follow the pattern set by Jesus and learn to rest.
If you’re serious too or even just curious, or even just tired, I have two next steps for you;
- Create an account at Practicing the Way and gobble up their resources on Sabbath. There’s so much helpful content there that it would be silly to try to reinvent something better.
- Come to the AbideCR conference. I mean it. Come. Find a Fri/Sat babysitter, buy the tickets, and invest this time to rest and reset. You won’t regret it.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
Happy, restful New Year.