The call to Sabbath-rest has become increasingly beautiful to me, these past two months. Less like a dry prescription for the good Christian life, and more like the beguiling tones of a Lover whispering: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away. For lo, the winter is past…” (Song of Solomon 2:10-11)
There is space here in Sabbath, for Jesus to re-write the falsehood of the Enemy, to gently straighten and re-align my thinking with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable….” (Philippians 4:8) I can push on without His help, but the going gets slow and painful. I can hear Paul encouraging the early believers to “…make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” (Hebrews 12:13) When I spend time with Jesus, I am strengthened and renewed, and the lies of the Enemy are exposed for what they are.
There is space in Sabbath moments, to feel His presence and hear Him say that all the ways I don’t measure up in this world don’t begin to measure up to the ocean-depths of His love for me. When I get too busy to step into His light, shame becomes a constant tormenting companion that drains my energy, drives me to try harder, work more, to make myself acceptable. But Paul is writing triumphantly,“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies….Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us..” (Romans 8:33-34) I need time with my Savior, to contemplate Grace, to send shame running.
Here in the quiet there is space for His Spirit to connect the dots in my life, to tie together today’s scattered events and experiences into the larger narrative– see how it all fits together as part of His plans for me. When I don’t stop to listen and wait on Him, I miss that perspective, see only the confusing clutter and the jumbled emotions inside. It’s easier to lose focus, when all I can see is my mess– easier to doubt His hand at work in my world. And there is Paul reminding me again that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him….” (Romans 8:28) When I come to Him, my eyes are opened to see that He is shepherding my soul in every circumstance, and will lead me through whatever comes. Not one of the details of my life escape His notice, and He has already woven them, both the good and the bad, into the story.
And as I make the time to rest…to listen…to just be present with Jesus, the more precious Sabbath-rest becomes to my spirit. Sometimes you have to walk right into the ocean to really understand what it is like. We had no idea how beguiling its depths would be.
“Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to Him.” (Psalm 34:8)
“When I feel the cold of winter
And this cloak of sadness,
I need You.
All the evil things that shake me,
All the words that break me–
I need You.
Over The Mountains, over the Sea…
Here You come running, my Lover to me.
Do not hide me from Your presence;
Pull me from Your shadows–
I need You.
Beauty, wrap Your arms around me;
Sing Your song of kindness—
I need You.”
(Song of Solomon, Martin Smith)