At the end of March a group of 19 youth, students and leaders from St Mark’s went away for the weekend to Min-y-Don Christian Adventure Centre. This is something we’ve done annually for the last 6 or so years and it is by far one of the best things we do. The weekend was full of sun, fun, and friendship. We climbed, abseiled, walked, kayaked, arched? (did archery), played games and had a campfire.
Our theme for the weekend was ‘Rhythms and Rest’, with our younger group we looked at how to build good ‘rhythms’ that enable and help grow our personal relationship with God. We gifted the group with journaling Bibles (the ones with big margins you can write and draw in) and it was exciting to see so much enthusiasm for getting in God’s word creatively.
With our student group we looked at rest, Sabbath and explored some of the ancient ways of praying and taking time out with God. It is this that I have found myself challenged with recently and would like to share with you in this blog.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
This has to be one of my favourite passages in scripture! ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?’ I wonder how many of us can identify with that? But if someone told you they had an antidote for stress, anxiety, tiredness, frustration, discontentment, restlessness – would you take it?
Modern life is fast paced, we are faced with messages every day that tell us that if we work harder, earn more, do more, be more - will be happy and life will be that little bit better. Our world moves at such a pace that we hurry to keep up, squeezing more into our time and getting more worn out.
Often we can justify our pace of life by telling ourselves that we ’don’t have a choice’ or that ‘it’s the right thing to do’. We fear what others think, that we might let someone down, that we have to work this hard to get what we need.
But what is the cost? Have we lost touch with what we really need?
For a moment, imagine your soul as a phone battery. When you are at 100%, you are living life in the fullness that Jesus gives, you are full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When you are at 0% and your battery is depleted, you are stressed, anxious, exhausted, restless, angry and discontent.
If you are anything like me, you won’t rest until you get down to 20%. We feel like rest is a necessity and that we have to rest to get back to a level where we can function and keep going. And because we are able to function before we fully recharge our batteries, most of us don’t rest for very long. Similarly, most of us don’t rest well, we can often misunderstand what we need to rest and confuse sitting in front of the TV for a couple of hours for the kind of rest that fills our soul.
It’s so easy to miss out on that top 10%, on all that Jesus has to offer, life to the FULL. Jesus calls us to real rest; ‘Come to me, get away with me and you will recover your life’. What a promise! At what point do you rest? Do you view rest as essential to your life with Jesus – or a necessary action to allow you to function?
For me the real challenge around rest is God’s greatest commandment. We are commanded to love God and to love others and we cannot love others well if we are not rested and present for the people around us. God is not easily revealed by stressed, worn out people. We all know how easy it is to snap at others and feel hurt by the smallest of things when we are tired. But when we are rested... Love is easy, it flows from us, it is what we were designed for and we bear much fruit.
God gives us an antidote to our tiredness. Sabbath. We often understand Sabbath as a day every week when we don’t go to work but the word literally means to ‘stop’. Not just to stop whatever work we are doing, but to stop worrying, stop wanting, stop striving… Stop. To come to the one who will give us ‘real rest’, not just when we feel run down, but regularly. Sabbath will look different for each of us, what is rest for one of us may be work for another, but when we set aside time to enjoy God and His creation we will learn to live ‘freely and lightly’.
Sabbath is not a new concept, it is written into creation – a rhythm for life. But perhaps it is one we have forgotten. I invite you this week to consider your own rhythms of work and rest and to think about what Sabbath looks like for your life – and to try it out!
I confess much of what is written above, and what was taught over our weekend, is based on a brilliant talk series on Sabbath by John Mark Comer. If you are looking for more on adopting the Sabbath, I highly recommend giving them a listen. The talks are practical, engaging and challenging. You can find them here: