Let it be. That was the title of the chapter I was reading in the book, Sabbath. It was an enlightening chapter for me because it encompassed a lot of what I’ve been learning myself lately. Specifically dealing with the ideas presented in the book’s tagline: “finding rest, renewal and delight in our busy lives.”
For Lent this year I have decided to give up adding anything new to my Google calendar. And this has been hard for me! I tend to fill up the “whitespace” on my calendar with activities – whether related to work or play. A planner by nature, I don’t often leave a lot of margin in my life for the unexpected. But I’m hoping 40 days to create a new habit will help in this area.
At any rate, reading a book on intentionally creating Sabbath space in our lives is perfect timing for me right now. I’m about a third of the way through the book but no chapter has stood out to me like the last one I just read. It definitely caught my attention and here are some reasons why:
“Sabbath is not dependent upon our readiness to stop. We do not stop when we are finished. We do not stop when we complete our phone calls, finish our project, get through this stack of messages, or get out this report that is due tomorrow. We stop because it is time to stop.
Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop — because our work is never completely done…If we refuse rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we die. Sabbath dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished.“
What I liked about that quote is how it accepts the reality of our life – we will never be finished with everything because there will always be one more thing to do, and then one more and so on and so forth. But to give ourselves permission to back away from our To-Do list and simply “be” is priceless.
“When we stop, we see that the world continues without us; sweet humility and gentle mindfulness bequeath the grace to stop, and see that it is good, there is no need to keep pushing. We stop, with no chores or agenda, we let our eyes rest, our bodies heal, our activities languish, and taste the fruits of our labor, as the Psalmist invites us: Be still, and know.”
That quote showed me the beauty once again of Psalm 46:10, “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” It focuses on the idea of taking our focus off ourselves and putting it back on God – the One who is truly in charge if our lives.
“Henri [Nouwen] believed that a spiritual life was a pilgrimage from absurdity to obedience — from deafness to listening. If we surrender fully into Sabbath time, we can slowly move from a life so filled with noisy worries that we are deaf to the gifts and blessings of our life ,to a life in which we can listen to God…”
“A life in which we can listen to God” – who doesn’t want that? I know that “noisy worries” so often crowd out God’s voice in my own life. I like that the opposite of worry in this quote is being open to the blessings in our lives. A life filled with gratitude has no place for anxious thoughts!
All these quotes about taking time to stop and simply “Be” resonated so much with me and I hope they spoke into your own life as well. May we take the time over the next little while to cultivate places of Sabbath Rest. And there we will find permission to stop trying to get everything done, to be still and let God have control, and to take time to listen to God instead of our own anxious thoughts. Here goes!