Discipleship, Grace

Finding Restoration

For the last week and a half, our family has been “hiding in the woods” of Oregon for some much desired and needed time away. And as one does, as we approach the end of our vacation I have been reflecting on whether I have found the refreshment or rest that I thought I needed.

I think so.

For me time away from the regular schedule and demands are times to dream and scheme. I usually come away from short sabbaticals with a list of new challenges or ideas to tackle. This trip has some of this but not nearly the typical crush of tasks to take on. I think a big part of this is that we still don’t know what the next months hold. As virus infections continue to rise in the U.S. and the likelihood of another lock-down seems necessary the church remains in the a flexible posture and we keep preaching the word and trusting the Spirit to move among us (even if we are apart).

I think the other reason I don’t have a huge dream list from this trip is that what I need is not new dreams, what I need is restoration. Renewal, re-energizing for the days ahead.

Sliding into Psalm 126 this morning I join the Psalmist crying out for another move of God.

The prayer begins by recounting. “When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.” Mouths filled with laughter, shouts of joy, and people taking notice. “The LORD has done great things for them,” Indeed, the LORD has done great things for us… we are in fact glad!

But we won’t settle for nostalgia. We want more of Jesus, more of his harvest, more of his glory. “Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!” Like a flood to a desert place, wash us anew in your grace and overwhelm us with your presence and power.

This has been a season of tears and weeping, which are seeds for sowing. In Christ, we shall come home with shouts of joy. With his harvest.

This is what I need, I think it is what you need too. Restoration. Grace-driven, Christ-exalting, wind-in-your-sails strength. I think that is what the Spirit is working. We are laughing again, shouting for joy.

May we say, Yes, the LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.

Discipleship

Being Undone May Be The Point

I want to commend to you the latest episode of the Spiritual Life & Leadership podcast from Markus Watson. In this episode Markus interviews A.J. Swoboda and discusses sabbath.

The remarkable, and important exchange comes early in the conversation when Swoboda talks about how sometimes sabbath undoes us, which is the point to get us to hear God and submit yet again to his way.

Our old normal left no margin. Constant noise, busy, full calendars. Never quiet, never just listening.

Perhaps then this pandemic is meant to undo us, so that we will find space to hear from the Lord again, to desire it. To truly rest not just metaphorically rest. I know it has been that for me. And I want more.

Grab the podcast wherever you listen to such things. And pursue sabbath.

Book Review

Ruthless About Hurry

While on vacation (eight days long to get the maximal refreshment) I finished the latest Christian craze that is John Mark Comer’s new book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. It is a good book. There is vitally important exhortation to be counter-cultural for spiritual, psychological, and physical health. It is well researched and winsomely written. But what nags at me as I have some space from it is wondering if everything presented is actually accessible.

Now don’t get me wrong, this book still keeps its four-star rating on GoodReads, but I think so much of what is suggested is really only available to the affluent.

Comer covers this in the book, he knows the tension and realizes if you can spend $20 on a book you have some level of affluence and we should be okay with that and go on living simple. But I have been mentally wrestling with that as I don’t even think some of the practices are accessible to people in my neighborhood much less the resort town where I vacationed where locals lived a far different life.

Essentially the first half of the book, that dives into the trauma of hurry in our society and the Christian invitation to rest, is a goldmine. Well worth the time to read and contemplate. But from there I wonder if we can advocate for sabbath more broadly. I even felt like some of the tips equated to a new, hipster-approved, self-righteousness. Which is the furthest from the author’s intention.

There has to be a way to disciple all people into rest and intentional slowness before a holy God. One that includes all those we long to be in the church and our lives.

I want to wrestle with this thinking some more and maybe if you read the book we can talk it over together, slowly.

Even so, I am going to walk slower when I can and rest well to serve well. Living simple not as a result of my affluence but because I get to in Christ.