For the busy person who wants to stay connected to God throughout the week!

Posts tagged ‘busy schedule’

Soul Cravings

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Haven’t written much lately because, quite honestly, I was off seeking some Sabbath time whenever I could.  As I thought about the drive behind this very intense time of Sabbath moments, I realized that my soul actually craved the time so fiercely that I had no choice but to listen and respond.

I’m not talking about feeling tired so I took a nap, although I did that too.  I’m nappingnot talking about pausing to read a few good chapters in a book, although I did that too.  No, what I am talking about when I say soul cravings is a visceral, almost indescribable, pull toward quiet or gentleness or solitude.  The pull, the craving, so large, so powerful that it directed my steps before my conscious mind could respond – (read talk me out of it.)

Have you ever felt those soul cravings?    I’m sure I have felt them before and yet this past month they have overruled my task nature so strongly that I have come to see them almost as a supernatural force (read God) compelling me. 

slider #2The results of those quiet times in the midst of busyness, of soft music as I drifted off to nap time, of the feel of a soft breeze on my face as I sought a sanctuary of solitude outside was serenity.  This serenity permeated not only my soul but my mind too.  I was so much more patient.  I laughed more. My stress level decreased a hundred fold.  I found a flow in my day that wasn’t there before these moments. 

What made these moments different from other Sabbath moments I have taken over the years?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps it was the compelling nature of them that went far beyond my usual “I’ll rest on schedule” and caused me to abandon what I was doing to seek the deeper connection with my soul in that moment.   Whatever the reason, I felt the difference and I.do.not.want.to.lose.it. 

I may have just described a unique experience and yet I think not.  We all have soul cravings.  The difference for me this time was my soul was hungry for true Sabbath it took over my body and my mind. 

As the old story of the African tribesmen goes when they were guiding a group of American businessmen on a safari who refused to slow down except for a few hours of sleep each night.  wind up downThe tribesmen refused to budge one morning stating unequivocally that they were sitting still until their souls caught up to their bodies.

My body and soul have been reunited this past month and I pray that I don’t let them get separated ever again.

spiritual energy

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46.10

Blessings,

Nancy

An Anagram Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Do you like anagrams?  What is an anagram for silent?  It’s listen. In the book of James we read that we are to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.  It is hard to listen without being silent.  Steps to the sun

I must say that in today’s world listen and its anagram silent get lost in the noise out there whether it be on the 24 hour news cycle, Facebook, blogs, or talk radio.  It seems these days we only listen in order to react and quickly get angry.cat th

And as with other biblical passages that we conveniently want to ignore in order to do things our way either by satisfying our ego’s need to be right or our first amendment need to be free to say what we want, this passage from James is counterculture.

Sabbath, too, is counterculture.  Who has time these days to take a 24 hour rest?  We are too busy with all our speaking, doing and trying to get ahead.  And yet, let’s be clear that Sabbath was a way for God to break through our egocentric existence and command us, yes, command, to be quiet and let silence do the heavy lifting for 24 hours.  (BTW I continue to be amazed at the number of Christians who state publicly that don’t like God telling them what to do! ??????????????????????????????They are pretty clear that they know what is better for them than God does…but I digress).

Without Sabbath not only do we never stop but the noise never stops either.  We stay continually off-balance listening for the next news break, comment on Facebook or ad hominem attack on the radio.  There is no time to listen to God, to our souls, to our inner wisdom.  If the world is any indication of what happens when we don’t take Sabbath time, then I say we should start obeying that fourth commandment ASAP!

Why not take James to heart this week – be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger?  Make it a Sabbath commitment to honor God and yourself. balance stones

              “Be still and know that I am God”  Psalm 46.10

Nancy

Life’s Work

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

In my work with churches that are searching for a vision in which to carry out God’s will, I continue to be amazed at how few of them have actually gone to the scriptures for “in-sight.” Bible closed with a chain lock  They seek all kinds of gimmicks, tricks of the trade, and church growth programs to give their church’s the boost they need to attract new people.  When I use scripture to help them formulate a vision, some of the members get rather perturbed that we are ‘wasting’ time reflecting and Clock in waste paper basketpraying rather than planning a to do list. 

And I am not relating this because I feel superior to them or haven’t fallen into the ‘get going now’ mentality in my own spiritual life.  Oh no, I am relating this because this is pretty much how human beings operate when there is work to do.  Shoulder to the grindstone, rolled up sleeves and a clip board are sure signs that something is happening.  Head down in prayer…well, not so much. 

God knew we would need to be told that withdrawing to pray, reflect and rest was a requirement not a suggestion.  And even with a commandment and the example of the prophets and Jesus showing us just what God requires of us, we still think we have a better way of living life and seeking God’s will.work life balanceWhat if keeping Sabbath is God’s way of making sure our lives are full, meaningful and productive?  What if the commandment to keep Sabbath is not only a preparation for each week and a needed rest from our six days of labor but a metaphor for life itself?

In a recent article in the New York Times, Oliver Sacks, professor of Neurology at NYU and upon whom the movie Awakenings was based, wrote about Sabbath keeping.  He recounts his family history in keeping Sabbath. silent, pause or break time hand gesture As a member of an Orthodox Jewish family, paying heed to the call to Sabbath and all that entails was a vital part of his upbringing.  Like many children when they grow up and leave home, however, he strayed from the concept of Sabbath keeping. 

After being reacquainted with his cousin, Robert John Aumann, who was a Nobel prize winner, father and grandfather to 30 children, and an intellectual giant, he became reacquainted with Sabbath keeping.  In an interview, his cousin Robert John spoke about the importance of Sabbath to him, “The observance of Sabbath is extremely beautiful…it is not even a question of improving society – it is about improving the quality of one’s own life.”

Keeping Sabbath allows us to connect to our life force, to restore ourselves to energy levels required to live out the week and to see the beauty all around us.  And more…

Oliver Sacks has cancer and is dying.  He concluded his article by saying “I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.” 

Sabbath – A weekly rest and re-connection with God is also a prelude to eternal rest with God when our work here on earth is done.  Sabbath – A beautiful way to prepare ourselves for that final seventh day of rest after the six days of a life’s work are done.

soothing ripples

“…And the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4.7

Peace,

Nancy

Sabbath Keeping as Sin?

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I recently saw a question on a chat board asking if Sabbath keeping was considered a sin for Christians.  After doing a double take and verifying that it said what I thought it said, I paused to consider what could make someone think that.

Did this questioner feel the Old Testament had no authority for Christians? Ten Commandments Then, all the commandments in the Hebrew Scriptures are null and void and I don’t think that has merit.

Did they feel that because Jesus said Sabbath was made for man and not man for Sabbath that somehow it was not necessary? I don’t think Jesus words seem to negate the need for a Sabbath. He is just taking the legalism out of it.

Or, did this person feel that Sunday as the Lord’s Day had co-opted the need for Sabbath keeping?  Perhaps…

Historically at the outset of Christianity, both Saturday, as Sabbath, and Sunday, as the Lord’s Day of Resurrection were observed. Christ is risen Eventually, Christians dropped the Saturday Sabbath and focused on Sunday as the day to worship and rest. 

So perhaps in a literal sense his question has merit.  However, in the spirit of the fourth commandment, the need for rest and God’s giving it to us as a command and a gift still holds true.  The spirit of this law is not about the legalisms that have grown up around the Sabbath such as no reading, playing or enjoying yourself.  The Spirit of this command offers us a life-giving pause, time to rest, reconnect with God and loved ones, be healed of our busyness and to give thanks for the bounty and beauty of life that God has shared with us.  Steps to the sun

I don’t see how that could ever become a sin. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  John 3.16-17

Blessings,

Nancy

Mini-Sabbaths

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Life has been uber busy these last two weeks.  We have transitioned from our winter stay in Georgia back to our home in Western New York.  ?????Packing up, driving two days in caravan mode, unpacking two cars, settling in, recovering from the stomach bug not to mention all the things on my calendar that had to be done as soon as I got back including a wedding and preaching the same weekend.  All of which I consciously accepted and for which I was excited.  Nonetheless, I found myself petering out long before any of my tasks were completed.

And I did something totally novel for me.  I stopped and rested!!!exhaustedwoman on bed

I listened to my body, which was pretty adamant, and took a breather.  When I first sat or laid down, I wasn’t sure my back would stop aching or my tiredness would disappear without days of rest.  However, within 20 minutes the spasms were gone and I felt like myself again. 

Time business concept.Twenty minutes!  Then, I was up and about my tasks again until the tiredness tapped me on the shoulder and said “excuse me…time for a break”.  I became obedient to that message.  And guess what?  Everything got done. 

Imagine how much better we would all feel if we took the 24 hour Sabbath rest that God commands us to take? 

Over and over I need to relearn this lesson that rest makes me more productive.  It does not make me lazy.  It also makes me a happier, more creative person who enjoys life so much more.spiritual energy 

How are you doing on listening to God, your body, mind and spirit?  Is resting a part of your routine?  God knew it would bless our lives and when I listen I know it too. 

“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1.20b

Find those mini Sabbaths and work up to the wisdom of a 24 hour Sabbath.

Blessings,

Nancy

Snow Day Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Blizzard-buried-cars-SouthBoston-09Feb2013There is nothing like a snow day to slow you down.  With winds gusting to 40 mph and snow falling at over an inch an hour the thought of leaving my home was far from motivating.  And even though I was not looking forward to going out, I needed to.  However, after getting stuck in my parking lot before I even got out of my parking space, I knew I was in for the day.  After getting over my initial panic of being stuck and missing an obligation, I relaxed into what turned out to be a wonderfully peaceful day of Sabbath moments.

Why is it that we need a snow day, a sick day or a car breakdown to give us permission to stop and rest?  On the one hand it is a testament to our work ethic and on the other it is warning that we view ourselves as human doings rather than human beings.  And there are times when we need to be a human being and those times come more frequently than the occasional snowstorm, illness or car repair.

Which is why God gave us a 24 hour “snow day” each week to rest and recoup.

On my snow day, I read, -reading-nook_________________________________I napped, cozy bedI meditated and I journaled about how this unexpected lull in my schedule reminded me that I need to practice what I preach.  And one of the blessings of this day was that I was completely alone.  The time plus the solitude brought me to a place where my inner and outer peace were one.  I don’t know about you but having my insides match my outsides exceeds my skill set on more than one day a week.  This congruency or the feeling of being whole and complete in that peacefulness is another gift of God.  It was God’s shalom.  It was a sense that all will be well because at that moment in time all was well with my soul.

So, I asked myself that evening…why is it that I deny myself this sense of shalom, wholeness, peace and well-being in order to be busy? A question that I bet I will ask over and over.   I imagine my answers will be more of excuses than heartfelt replies and those excuses will make my life less than God had intended and I will have no one to blame but myself.

Glimpsing, experiencing, and tasting a day of Sabbath moments when God’s presence filled all the spaces in my external and internal environments made me hungry for that experience to be part of my regular routine.

7 days a weekAnd every seven days I can feast on it without apology or excuse – snow day or not.

“I set before you this day life and death, blessing and curse, therefore, choose life so that you and your children may live.”  Dt. 30.19

Blessings,

Nancy

Home Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I have a confession to make…sometimes I do home church.  Well, more accurately, I do home worship.  What do I mean by that?  Instead of going to an established worship service in a local church, I stay home and hold my own worship within the quiet of my inner sanctuary. 

Some would argue that it is not possible to do that because worship is done collectively and I will give you the point.  spiritual energyAll I know is that sometimes I just need the quiet of my own home, the Bible, a devotional or two, some beautiful music playing in the background, candles burning, and God and I have a cup of coffee together.  It is a very relaxing way to begin my Sabbath. 

Perhaps it is because Sunday’s at church can be rather hectic with announcements, meetings, to do lists to be accomplished, people to see and criticisms to deal with that I need a quiet, non-public kind of worship time.    And it isn’t always but when I know I need solitude with God this is how I do it. 

How do you find quiet time with God in a busy, crazy world – yes, even in the church?  What are the things that you do to still your mind, open your heart and relax your body in the presence of God? 

And here’s a novel thought…what would happen if churches became more like a sanctuary in time for the weary worldly traveler rather than another busy couple of hours in the week? 

Maybe I’m a Quaker at heart.  What do you think?

“Here’s what I want you to do:  Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.  Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.  The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”  Matthew 6.6 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

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