My sabbatical is over and it is my first day back. I thought it appropriate to write today about rest – deep rest. I had never taken a sabbatical before, and I can say that I loved it. I grew, had a lot of fun, experienced God in new ways, bonded with family, and rested deeply. Along the way, I learned some things about rest that I would like to share.
Before this time, rest was, for me, just a break to get back in the race. I valued rest because I really valued the race. I see things differently now: life is not a race; it is a pursuit of the Lord. Work is part of this pursuit, as are rest, hobbies, learning, relationships, and more. If you are a worker-bee (that’s me too), remember that the goal of life is not primarily to accomplish things but to pursue God. Find His life and joy in all of the areas of your life, not just work.
Rest is not merely the absence of work, but the drinking in of life outside of work. I love my job; it is a calling. But the danger of loving and believing in what you do for work is that it can threaten to consume your life. I have not compromised my time to faith or family, but I had lost many of my hobbies, interests, and organizing disciplines. On sabbatical, I re-learned how much I like my life outside of work (and I still love my work).
True rest only comes after hard work. The best rest comes after hard work. I have even found that my rest has to involve some activity. I have tried spending an entire Saturday doing nothing, laying in bed and watching TV, Netflix, or playing video games. At the end of the day I am more tired and not refreshed at all. A good day off, for me, includes getting some things done, laughing with family, a walk or hike, some reading, and – yes, of course – lots of TV and video games. For my sabbatical, I did a variety of things – backpacking, family times, travel, date nights, reading, house projects, and organizing. I got good nights of sleep, too, which was awesome. Combining these all together lead to a deep rest.
Deep rest can only be found in Christ. He said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29) We can’t truly rest until we have experienced the peace that comes from God’s forgiveness, the integrity to know we are on the right path, and the joy that comes from being connected with our Creator.
My sabbatical is over, and I am ready – even excited – to be back to work. As I return to work, though, I don’t want to go back to working the way I did before. I don’t want to forget the lessons and the life God has revealed in me. I want to return with a different pace; a pace that I believe will actually accomplish more, because Christ can do more through a rested person who is overflowing with joy and life.
Finally, I want to say a huge “thank you” to my church staff and leaders, and the church family, that let me have this time of rest. It was incredible to experience deep rest.