Is it just me or does anyone else have trouble slowing down, stopping the busyness, and clearing their schedule to rest? My transition to Forest Hills has been busy. It’s been full and fun and exciting. There is much to learn and many people to meet. I have to tell you I’m loving it! But I’m also realizing once again my need to follow better the 4th Commandment.
It was less than 6 months into our marriage when Brady first talked to me about what he perceived as my struggle to rest. He was right, but until the point when he lovingly called me out, I was completely unaware of my inability to cease work. I mean, there was so much to do. Email. Housework. Grocery Shopping. For some reason, I needed to accomplish it all before I could rest. And that was before we were parents.
Call it the Protestant Work Ethic. Call it my need for order. But let’s be sure to call it what it is: the road to burnout, sickness, and resentment. Not to mention it’s completely counter to the holy rhythm of life which means when I fail to rest my connection to God diminishes. I’m grateful for Brady, how he helped me see clearer into myself in those early days of our marriage, and how he continues to help me focus on the priority of rest in my life.
One thing we quickly put into practice in our relationship is getting away in order to rest. Sometimes it’s a weekend trip to our parents’ homes. Other times, it’s a trip with friends, or our annual vacation together, or even a half-day at Radnor Lake in Brentwood. We have found it crucial, even necessary, to be intentional about getting out of our home, outside of our normal routines to rest from our work (paid work, housework, any kind of work). We believe God’s gift of Sabbath is meant for us to enjoy life, enjoy one another, and enjoy God’s good gifts in the world. And it reminds us that God is the one who keeps the world going. Not us.
How do you make time to rest, to enjoy life, to receive the gift of Sabbath that God gives us?
I know there are a million things to do, but let me encourage you to make Sabbath a priority. God delights in our rest. In our time away, we make special room for God to enter into our lives, replenish us and make us whole. No matter what day it is, I’m pretty sure the 7th day, the day of rest, is coming soon. Won’t you receive the gift that is waiting for you?
Peace and love,
“You, O God, set a table for me right in front of my enemies. You bathe my head in oil; my cup is so full it spills over! Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the LORD's house as long as I live.” Psalm 23:5-6 (CEB)
Have you ever felt so grateful you think you might explode? Filled to the point of breaking open? That’s how I feel right now. My cup overflows.
This past week you offered Brady, Thaddeus and me an incredible welcome to the Forest Hills UMC family. The package of cards, the brunch after worship, the smiles, words of excitement about our arrival, and the hugs have been such a gift. With each gesture of welcome we experienced God’s love in a tangible way. My cup overflows.
During a difficult time of transition, your hospitality smoothed the path. Change is difficult. Grief is real. Relationships and routines alter, but in the midst of it all, I found one thing remains: God’s loving presence. God has been with us each step of the way...and conspicuously through you. When we could have gotten lost in sadness, you stepped in and shined God’s light into our lives. With your tangible acts of love, you called us to remember God’s faithfulness. My cup overflows.
When I think about gratitude I’m amazed at how powerful it is. We know too well the difficulties of life. The pain, the suffering, the heartache. They can easily consume us. And yet each day gifts of grace surround us. Our very breath. Our homes. A relationship with a friend. A family member. A furry friend. Food. God’s creation. A job. Life is like a cup, filled with both joys and sorrows. Looking for the gifts around us each day is a powerful practice. It can change our perspective, help us experience God’s presence, and remind us of God’s faithfulness.
Gratitude opens us to hope.
What are you grateful for today? Can you name one thing, maybe two? Speak them aloud each day and watch your cup fill, maybe even overflow.
Kristin Clark-Banks is the pastor of Forest Hills UMC.