It felt strange to maintain digital silence during my three-week-long trip to the Middle East, especially when I’m so dependent on the prayers of my online tribe. It still does. Because of security reasons, however, I had no choice. I still don’t.
Although I can’t share the details of the trip online, I can share what I’ve learned. The first lesson was the importance of rest. I can’t believe those words are coming from a lifelong workaholic, but it’s true.
The importance of rest
Travel time from here to there was about twenty-eight hours. I never sleep on planes but managed four hours straight of good sleep, plus napping after that. It was the longest (and probably the best) sleep I’d had in months, which says a lot about the weeks leading up to my trip.
I wanted to hit the ground running. I arrived to find the plan was for me to take some time to rest. After my sleep on the plane, I felt more rested than I had for so long, I didn’t think I needed to be still, but I did.
My first day was spent at rest. I sorted through what I’d packed, read my Bible, and prayed.
Uninterrupted quiet time, with no needs to meet other than my own, was precious and restorative.
One of the families there observes Shabbat and the Sabbath, and I was invited to join them. On Friday evenings, we met for a brief service. We always had a time of personal examination of our actions over the last week, followed by confession and forgiveness. It was beautiful to listen to children confess being unkind to a sibling, parents confess to children, children to parents, followed by the offended one offering forgiveness.
A time of communion served as the beginning of a full day of rest. For once, I didn’t clean house, do laundry, write, or sort through anything. I read books, took walks, and rested.
Two paintings hung in the bedroom. One said, “Be still,” the other, “And know that I am God.”
I intend to continue the ritual of Shabbat and Sabbath now that I’m home. Yesterday didn’t turn out as I’d planned, but I still managed a very modified evening of reflection, Scripture, and stillness. Tomorrow will be my day of rest. It’s already planned.
Being still isn’t popular in this country. We’re a busy people, and we leave little room for rest, but that doesn’t mean our busyness isn’t sin.
In fact, it puts the emphasis on our ability to work hard to accomplish our goals and robs of us a deeper understanding of the sovereignty of God and His ability to work in our lives.
Are we too busy to be still?
If so, why not stop, confess, repent, and change. It’s not easy, but it’s also not optional if we want the relationship with God He intended for us. My experience of stillness over the last few weeks left me wondering how much more we could accomplish if we did things God’s way. What would He do in our six days if we truly gave Him the seventh? How might He expand our reach? Extend our efforts? I don’t know yet, but I intend to find out. Why not join me?
Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” Exodus 20:8,9
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