“ Let us go out into the wilderness for a while and rest ourselves.The crowds gathered as always, and Jesus and the twelve couldn’t eat because so many people came and went. They could get no peace until they boarded a boat and sailed toward a deserted place.”
Last Thursday, the staff of our church had a great day. Staff Sabbath, a day which we take 3 to 4 times each year, is a time when we load up our chairs, blankets, ipods and books, and head off to the wilderness for a day of rest.
It is not a planning day, or a strategizing day. Normally we don’t even speak to each other. It is just a day to “be.” Our rule is, do whatever renews your soul. And it is a day that we all look forward to. Some of us read. Some of us hike. Some of us nap. But the best part (for me, anyway) is the worship.
I put my headphones on and head for my favorite swing on the other side of the lake. And there I sit and connect with my Lord and Savior. It is a magnificent experience. The others sometimes share that they do the same thing, although in different places. My friend Laura heads for the rocking chairs on the back porch. My friend Andrew climbs to the top of the mountain. But regardless of where we have chosen to be, it is our sacred space. And God always meets each one of us there.
In the past, I have heard others comment on how nice it must be to get to do that “on a work day.” And I am very quick to share that our church staff doesn’t get a weekly worship time. We don’t get to simply walk into God’s presence every seven days and lose ourselves in prayer and worship. We are too joyfully busy creating that opportunity for others to enjoy. Therefore, it is an imperative that we schedule time away for ourselves, or we would quickly become a church led by people with very little connection with God. Can you imagine how terrible that would be?
But my whole point is,
Everyone needs Sabbath
Everyone, including Jesus, needs a periodic time of rest, reflection and personal worship. God established this time for us early in Genesis. He knew, and modeled for us, a seven-day cycle in which we have time for all the necessaries in life: work, enjoyment, and rest. And in His earthly ministry, Jesus continued to teach this important lesson.
First, physically we need rest. We can’t run all the time. We live in a world that tells us we should. However, eventually everything breaks that doesn’t get proper rest and maintenance. And that includes us.
Second, spiritually we need rest. Whether we acknowledge it or not, our spirits were created for worship and communion with the Creator. And if we don’t get it, eventually our souls dry up, and a restlessness is created that can’t be remedied with the things of this world. To be spiritually deprived is just like physical hunger. It affects us in every aspect of our lives. And it is a miserable existence.
My friends, I hope that you are fully taking advantage of the “renewing” opportunities offered by your local church each week. Not just as a place to go out of habit or obligation, but as a refuge and sanctuary. As a sacred place where you can leave everything else behind for a day and connect with your one, true power source. And when you get there, I hope you embrace Him and open your heart to fully worship Him. The amazing thing about opening our hearts up to God, is that He immediately fills them with His Holy Spirit. And we walk away knowing that we have experienced His magnificent presence. True worship is a life-changer.
I come today to worship You in spirit and in truth. I open my heart fully to experiencing Your presence and to the word You have for me today. Help me, Lord, to leave the concerns of this world behind for just a little while, and to focus entirely on You. Teach me to be a true worshiper. Lead me to that path of abundant life You promised.
In the Lord’s name I pray,
Today’s Lectio Divina Passage:
Your prayers, rather, should be simple, like this:
Our Father in heaven, let Your name remain holy.
Bring about Your kingdom.
Manifest Your will here on earth, as it is manifest in heaven.
Give us each day that day’s bread—no more, no less—
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who owe us something.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
But let Your kingdom be, and let it be powerful and glorious forever. Amen.
Matthew 6: 9-13
Today’s song: Here I Am To Worship – Israel Houghton & the New Breed Choir