Thursday, April 3, 2014

God made rules for my protection

Finding Rest In The Daily Crazy
By Ann Lee Miller

I sat in the prayer room during my turn of a week-long 24/7 prayer vigil squeezing globs of brown, yellow, and white paint onto a paper plate. I chose a brush, blended colors, and stared at the blank cardboard wanting to project a feeling inside onto the page. The last time I’d tried this, I was in kindergarten. An hour later I had a painting of a person kneeling with sun streaming in the window any five-year-old would have been proud of.
For my Type A personality, this was a colossal waste of time. I should have been interceding for a long list of needs, or mining the Word for things God wanted to tell me. I should have been writing prayers to God in my journal, doing anything other than playing. And I probably would have been doing something more productive if the vigil hadn’t been mandated as a time of rest.
In Exodus 31:15 God’s command to take a Sabbath is stern—resulting in death if not observed. He must have lightened up in New Testament times or I would have been dead a thousand times over.
I know God—who designed me in the first place—makes rules to protect me. But while raising a houseful of kids, working, doing all the things in life that must be done—resting felt like a luxury I couldn’t afford. But the words from Exodus bore down on me, along with other verses stretching all the way to Hebrews 4:9, “There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”
So, I’ve rested one day a week for quite a few years. To my surprise, I find myself bursting out of bed on Monday mornings eager to dive into my work week. Sometimes I need more rest because my work—writing—requires that I not burn out. But isn’t burnout a threat for everyone? We’ve all experienced exhaustion that goes deeper than our need for sleep.
The Bible is packed with rest—the land laying fallow the seventh year (Leviticus 25:4), regular festivals, Jesus sleeping in the boat during a storm, attending a wedding, retreating to a quiet place to pray. Sometimes we need a vacation, sabbatical, or ninety minutes of peace.
A day of preparation for the Sabbath was customary (Luke 23:54). We need to prepare rest for ourselves, too. Examine what you do during your time off—shop, exercise, engage in a hobby, seek entertainment from TV or books, socialize, do extra work. Which, if any, of these things bring rest and refreshment to your soul? Brainstorm ideas that bring life and rejuvenation to your inner man and your relationship with God.
Rest, for me, means disengaging from the internet and anything else that busies my brain. I take long walks and talk to God. Sometimes I sit beside the river and invite God to speak to me. I might listen to instrumental music out of my usual genre, try something new, or laugh with friends.
Look for ways to help each other find peace and God. Encourage friends to take longer vacations, choose activities that restore their souls. Applaud them for making hard choices that feed their spirits rather than to-do lists.
The day I painted my goofy picture I met a facet of God I’ve never seen. I felt God’s nearness, camaraderie in a new way. And something stuck long after the activity—joy.

Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland University and published four novels. She guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives. Over 96,000 copies of her debut novel, Kicking Eternity have been downloaded from Amazon.