Tuesday, February 28, 2017

“…From Strength to Strength….” STOP Before You Start Your Journey!

This winter of 2016/2017 has been so unusual with much of our nation experiencing dramatic temperature swings.  In our area we’ve just experienced over a week of balmy spring-like conditions instead of the cold, wind, and icy rain or snow that would have been considered “normal” for this time. These days have produced, for the most part, a sense of energizing refreshment.  I’ve seen people washing cars in their driveways, walking and running in their neighborhoods, even breaking out the grills and eating outdoors at picnic tables.  It’s as if we’ve grabbed hold of a precious gift and made the most of it in order to be refreshed.  We’ve given ourselves permission to stop and enjoy.

As I’ve pondered this, I came upon a somewhat surprising Scripture in my study of David.  This mighty warrior king was experiencing one of the lowest points in his life.  Because of the betrayal of his beloved oldest son Absalom, the scene finds David leaving Jerusalem behind and running in humiliation for his life.
“But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered...And the king and all the people who were with him, arrived weary at the Jordan.  And there he refreshed himself.”  2 Samuel 15:30-16:14.

Wondering how David could ever have refreshed himself in light of the circumstances, I pursued the meaning of that Hebrew word.  I discovered that it actually means “to be breathed upon, to be refreshed repeatedly as if by a current of air.”  It means a deep soul rest.  There are only two other instances of this form of that word being used in the Old Testament and they are:
“Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.”  Exodus 23:12

“It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”  Exodus 31:17

In our culture beasts of burdens and servants are no longer relevant.  However, our lifestyles and often, work ethic, certainly affect everyone and everything around us.  I realized that Sabbath rest is more than just ceasing to work.  It involves actually turning from work and grabbing hold of precious space and time to enjoy.

Dan Allender, in his book, “Sabbath,” speaks of being invited by God to celebrate with Him in the cool of the day.  He refers to this as a “sanctuary in time” where we are invited to step out of the week’s frenzy and embrace the slowing, the fellowship with those we love, and the taking of time and space to see God’s plan for our lives with new eyes.  The refreshing comes from within.  It is the Breath of the Holy Spirit allowing us true soul play.
As we continue with our focus on the spiritual disciplines, would you consider keeping the Sabbath truly holy by embracing soul rest as a practice during the upcoming Lenten season?  Ask the Lord for His refreshment during this time.
“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’”   Mark 2:27
Resources for Going Deeper:
​​"Sabbath"  by Dan Allender
"Spiritual Disciplines Handbook"  by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
"Soul Feast"  by Marjorie Thompson

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