As I pursue God, I believe that I am becoming more and more holy. It’s really nothing that I’m doing, but rather what I’m allowing the Holy Spirit to do in me. Each season is another opportunity to take inventory of the places in my life where I’m still holding the position that I know better than God does. As I relinquish that position, I see God shaping me into the person He created me to be. One of the latest places of my submission to God has been in regard to Sabbath.
After being rejected by several churches, I threw everything I had into serving. I felt like I was spending every waking moment thinking about and planning and preparing opportunities for students to draw near to God. While I was doing everything I knew to do to be successful in ministry, I was more discouraged than ever. I was seeking validation from somebody, anybody that I was doing a good job and truly making a differing for God's Kingdom. I was in a really dark place. My temper; short. My work hours; long. My passion; waning. My family; frustrated. This was a recipe for disaster, but fortunately I had an opportunity to withdraw for a week to try and re-calibrate. I attended the CIY Wilderness retreat in Colorado, where I was able to connect with other Student Ministers and spend time with God at over 22,000 feet elevation on the side of a mountain.
I didn't know that someone could get burnt out doing ministry. I mean, I had heard the stories, but I was deceptively thinking that it would never happen to me.
It took some time to get used to the slowed pace of this week, but once I truly calmed down, I was able to listed to the still, small voice of God and He was saying to me over and over, “You need this every week.” At first, I pushed it aside, thinking, “Yeah, as soon as I get back, I have a stack of work to do that would rival the height of this mountain.” I imagined God standing over in the corner glancing at me with one eyebrow raised clearly not impressed with all the stuff I was going to do “for Him”
The challenge to spend a 24 hour period each week as a Sabbath rest was a key takeaway from my time in the mountains. I’m not perfect in doing this, but it has been a focus of mine this year. As a minister, it’s just not possible to make Sunday my day of rest. So, for my family, it’s from 5pm Friday evening - 5pm Saturday evening. It’s during this time that I actively attempt to disconnect for the sole purpose of spending time with God and Erin and the kids. As summer approaches, it gets difficult to make this happen regularly with week-long camps and events going on. But usually, each week, we make this happen.
Sabbath doesn't mean that I stop working just to get caught up on house work and errands. If this happens, we're doing these things together. However, when we're getting our best rest as a family, it's because the laundry, cleaning, groceries, etc. get done by 5pm on Friday. I used to think this was impossible, but I found that a little intentionality goes a long way toward creating a healthier rhythm of life for myself and my family.
I wasn’t sure completely how God was shaping me through this journey of Sabbath until my friend Brad told me that he was making a list of 5 of the happiest people he knew, so that he could pray for them. He said that I made the list. I was humbled to make such a list and as I reflected on that encouragement I had no choice but to turn it into praise to God for loving me and shaping me through this Sabbath journey.