Do you pick a Word of the Year? It’s kinda’ the thing to do these
days years. I have several friends who pick a word from the Lord to meditate on, to live out, to wrestle with through the year.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been fearful of picking the Word of the Year. Because there are 171, 476 words in the English language and the chance of picking the right one word out of all of those is 0.00000583%. I did the math. I have a better chance of being struck by lightening. Again, I looked it up.
Last year was The Year of Lea Ann. Don’t roll your eyes, it was really a thing. The Year of David was two years previous, and it went . . . ok for him. But last January, all signs pointed to a Super Awesome Year of Amazing Things for Lea Ann. When my husband christened it in my honor, I had no objections.
Neither did the principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world, either (see Ephesians 6). The year 2016 will go down in history as one of the most brutally difficult of my entire life, with a major life event or trauma occurring every 2-4 weeks. I could not wait for that year to end!
(Pray for me, this year is not much easier so far.)
Just as predicted, I got my word wrong this year.
In my defense, I was very, very close. I picked prayer. You may sense why a woman physically and spiritually and emotionally exhausted might say, “Hey, let’s spend more time beseeching the Good Lord for favor this year.” It seemed like a no-brainer.
I do need prayer. That much is certain. But the prayer, it seems, is a byproduct of what Jesus wants for me now more than ever.
“Are you resting?” my friend Kim asked me last week. Of course I’m resting. I took several weeks off during the holidays to literally do nothing. I’m sleeping now more than ever. I’m ashamed at how little I’ve accomplishing lately. Lazy? Probably. Resting? Like a boss.
Kim was not impressed with my bragging. She insisted I go home and ask my husband if I’m good at resting and if I am kind to myself. So I did. I marched home, picked up the phone, and proceeded to argue with my husband at how efficient and optimal my resting game is.
Then I ranted at him for an hour about how frustrated I was at being double-booked for two responsibilities in separate states one weekend this spring . . . while I cooked a dinner I had no time to eat and raced out the door to a meeting I was late for.
My meeting let out 15 minutes early that night. I raced back home for a precious few moments of peace and quiet before the rest of the family returned home. Warming up some leftovers, I jumped in bed and reached for a book from the pile of guilt, the books I need to read, promised to read, should have read long ago. Next in line: Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World by Shelly Miller.
Rest is ill-defined when we value our time and our worth based on productivity.
If we are created with intention by God for a specific purpose, and the way of discovering that purpose is through relationship with him, then the way of discovering what we are missing in life is through abiding with him on Sabbath. A lack of intentionality when it comes to how we rest leads to a depleted life defined by what the world dictates. When we are overtired and dreading the alarm clock, we miss out on the hints toward happiness God is leaving for us. “Wasting time” is actually the most productive action you may take this week.
– Shelly Miller
Rhythms of Rest, p 44
Wasting time? Did she actually say that? I started hyperventilating as my todo list screamed through my head. I hadn’t folded the laundry, finished my edits, or practiced my violin today. None of the children had a music lesson from me this week . . . again. Overdue library books, unanswered emails, unfinished articles . . .
“As we practice taking our hands off creation, we begin to believe God is trustworthy while we put faith in action.”
I was right to confess to my friend Joanna last month that my faith is lacking. But rather than shrug it off and run back to my anxious running and frantic listing, God is calling me to rest.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
— Matt. 11:28-29
It’s the year of rest.
I’m slowly chewing on every page of Rhythms of Rest, highlighting and copying and considering how resting every week — and every day — demonstrates my rest in God, facilitates resting in prayer, and provides rest and refreshment to my loved ones.
And while I’m at it, this year I’m giving up busy for Lent. Don’t laugh, this is a hard one for me. I’ll be using Shelly’s free ebook A Sabbath Journey for Lent as a guide while setting aside sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday as sacred rest.
And I’m actively looking for God’s rest every day, from exhales in the backyard to tea and books in bed. It sounds easy, but it’s a mental battle for me every hour. Pray with me?
Are you good at resting?
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