On this, still dark, but snow-glistening-from-full-moon-morning, I'm keenly aware we're a mere three days from 2024. Wahoo!
I've said it before, but, I dearly love fresh starts and new beginnings (not enough that I'll stay up to kiss in the New Year).
By the time the ball drops in, oh, let's say, Newfoundland, I'll be tucked in bed and sound asleep - - - - - - - - is there a ball drop in Newfoundland (?).
I love the anticipation of what's to come.
There's an air of excitement that surrounds a New Year, a birthday, the first day on a new job, welcoming a new season, a new school year, moving into a new house....
These are God-ordained-rhythms that are like hitting a re-set button, or re-arranging your computer/phone/tablet back to it's default mode - these moments grant us a renewal, a do-over, a clean-slate. It's an opportunity to turn a new page, start a new chapter, or turn over a new leaf.
Opportunities like this are sigh-worthy; besides, they instill in us a renewed energy for doing things a little differently, a bit better, or, to correct our course, and make disparate decisions.
Yet, just yesterday as I was whining a little bit, the Lord reminded me that week-after-week, He gifts me with just such a begin-again; but, I don't take advantage of it.
I stare it in the face, look at it in ink on my calendar, and jump right in and make, what should be a celebration, an ordinary moment on my schedule (except for dressing up and spending the first half of the day at church).
Every week, I wake up to a new morning and another rhythm that offers me a do-over into the next few days of work.
With the morning light, I unwrap a package called Sabbath, say "thank you," and put it down.
In fact, I've begun taking that gift for granted...
I take advantage of corporate worship, celebrating the Lord-of-the-Sabbath, then come home and forget this truth:
Sabbath was made for ME!!!!!
There are still things on the to-do-list needing marked off.
This is a free day, where I can get a jump start on the week.
I even lie to the Lord and to myself, "You know, don't you, that organizing, preparing, and marking these things as "DONE," really is RESTFUL TO ME? Right?"
With that, I have now committed two sins: I've ignored the fourth commandment and I've lied.
I don't at all take full advantage of this do-over-gift-of-God.
I seldom take the time to sit as I do for a birthday, or a New Year, and reflect on the week and wonder at how I saw God at work; the highs, and the lows, and the lessons learned; or take a meaningful moment and prepare my mind, heart, and soul for what's to come in the new week.
Yet, from the beginning our Lord planned this HUGE PRESENT just for me that sits on my breakfast table every Sunday:
And here's what the Lord's been trying to teach me over and over again:
I keep the Sabbath holy, when I honor it with ReSt!
What does that really mean in God's economy; according to His way of thinking; His desire for us, His kids?
I don't think it means a Sunday afternoon nap - though it could.
I don't think it means sitting stiffly in our Sunday-best, hands folded, doing nothing; nor does it mean staring all day into nothingness.
Recently, I dug into the verse (partly because I'm re-reading a great book on Sabbath).
There are three key words:
Holy, meaning set apart.
Rest, meaning to cease, to settle, to let go, to leave alone!
Work - to labor, to serve, to fulfill something by doing (mark those things "done" on the to-do-list)!
When the Lord gave us this commandment it was with the intent we'd take one day, set it apart, with hands off all the "stuff" we have to do on a regular basis, and leave it be!
There are six whole days to check the boxes on the to-do-list; but, one day (be it Sunday or another day - because for those in ministry, Sunday is aLwAyS a work day) God means for us to STOP and do something else (different from our normal WORK) that brings life to the soul.
I've come to realize Sabbath, for my sake, is for the deepening of my joy, for the enlarging of my faith (Sabbath really is a trust exercise), the releasing of my pride (thinking I'm in control), and, maybe most of all, so that my heart stays steadfast and courageous as I spend time in God's AWE-INSPIRING Presence. I certainly don't want to "lose heart" because of my OVERWHELMING NOTIONS ABOUT BUSY-NESS.
So here's what the Lord's been teaching me this week, as I enter a month that always brings me a long list of, often crazy and chaotic, end-of-year-work:
Are you ready for what's ahead? Ready, or not:
Take a day of ReSt!
Leave it all behind for just one day!
Then, go forth with renewed energy, enthusiasm. and a right perspective.
Those things won't come any other way....
Enjoy this Sunday's Sabbath (after all, it is New Year's Eve) but, perhaps, determine to honor the Sabbaths ahead, each one God brings us in 2024!
In fact, let's you and I (especially the "I") jump into the excitement, fresh-start, the anticipation of a new beginning, and the do-over of EVERY WEEK, just as God intended (then maybe, we won't let the dregs of our work-days become disabilities, instead of having the perspective of celebration (almost like entering a new year)!