Tag Archives: rest

Cabin 17: Row, Row Your Boat

fish

I just updated this chapter, greatly expanding it. Enjoy!

By the time the morning clouds were burned away by the midday sun, I was good and hungry for lunch. Jesus suggested we head to the lake to catch our meal.

“Jesus, I’m no fisherman, but my brother is a pro and he’s told me the fish bite best in the morning and evening, but high noon isn’t the time for fishing.”

“Well, can your brother walk on water and raise the dead?” Jesus replied with a wink. “With God anything is possible (Matt. 19:26). How about you do your job, and I’ll do mine?”

Jesus handed me an oar and we sat down in a little row boat and pushed off from shore. The calm waters sparkled as the sun reflected off the surface. An eagle flew overhead, dragon flies hovered over some cattails, while ducks chased after their lunch in the lily pads near the shore.

“Jeremy, there’s a thousand Kingdom lessons to be learned in a 12 foot row boat. But you need to leave your limited earth-bound mindset behind if you are to understand and embrace the exciting, surprising nature of life in the Kingdom of God.” Continue reading Cabin 17: Row, Row Your Boat

Cabin 6: Scenic Overlooks & Antique Shops

I’m sure you’re wondering what its like to go on a road trip and ride shot gun with Jesus. Several things stand out from that surreal ride to the Father’s Cabin.

First, Jesus was in no hurry! We were being passed all the way there. “Why are people in such a hurry?” Jesus commented. “Even while heading north for a weekend vacation, people are stressed and in a hurry.” Jesus was the most relaxed and pleasant persona I had ever encountered. “From my eternal perspective, its both tragic and comedic at the same time,” Jesus continued. “Life on earth is just a short blink of an eye, a temporary warm up act for the eternal life to come. Why is everyone so intent on rushing through it? Relax and enjoy the ride a bit.”

I pondered his words and remembered the Bible’s similar words: “Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14).  Jesus’ regular conversation was saturated with quotes from Scripture — so natural that you couldn’t tell when his words ended and the Bible quotes began…but I guess they are all the same for him. At one point I heard him paraphrasing Psalm 39:5-6:

“You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.”

The second thing I remember from that drive was all the stops we made! I thought we would never arrive. Jesus pulled over at every scenic overlook, each historical marker, every wayside rest, several ma and pa diners for a snack, and a few antique stores.

“Check out that view, Jeremy!” he exclaimed. “Isn’t it breathtaking?!” I wasn’t that impressed, honestly. It was just a small river valley with some ordinary wildflowers on a grassy hill.  It wasn’t the Grand Canyon or anything. But Jesus saw beauty in the things we take for granted. Every blade of grass, every butterfly, an oak leaf floating on the wind — he noticed and celebrated these things in much the same way as a mother celebrates her toddler’s crayon scribbles and finger paintings.

We stopped at an historical marker for a huge 300 year old white pine and he said, “Jeremy, look at this tree! Isn’t it majestic? Do you know how many storms this tree has endured? Amazing!” Or, the site where one of the earliest mining towns once stood in the late 1800s. “Those were the days, weren’t they, Jeremy?” he said as if I were around back then to remember. Hmmm….I guess Jesus was around then…and did remember those days. 

My  favorite memory was Jesus’ sense of humor. We stopped at several antique stores along the way, and Jesus would always go straight to the framed art section and find all the photos of himself. He would hold one up, stare at it for a moment and say, “Nope! Nice try.” Or, “Jeremy, check this one out! Are my eyes really this blue?” Or, “Blonde hair, really? What were you thinking?” he muttered to the artist under his breath. I laughed pretty hard.

Mostly, what stands out from the drive was his calming, piercing presence — his ever present attention to what was all around him. He seemed fully alive to all that life had to offer. The breeze. The warmth of the sun. The cricket in the ditch. The person in the car ahead of us. The birds on the power lines. The song on the radio. The oxygen being inhaled.

And me. He was fully attentive to me.

I felt at home. I felt secure and loved. I felt the layers of anxiety, insecurity, expectations and fear all falling away. In that passenger seat I could just be me. Just be alive, more alive than I had been for quite some time.

And we were only just arriving at the Father’s Cabin. The real adventure was about to begin.

PERSONAL REFLECTION: Do you need to slow the pace of life down? Are you rushing through life so fast and so busy that you are missing out on the everyday miracles all around you? Do you need to pull over to rest more? Do you need to enjoy the view a bit more? What are some ways you tend to “pull over” and enjoy a rest (reading, walks, hobby)? 

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to slow down and enjoy life more. Help me to stop and marvel at your beautiful creation all around me. I worship you today for all that you have made — every bird, flower, breeze and thunderstorm. You are an awesome God! Thank you for my life and help me to take time to enjoy it. Amen.

Continue reading Cabin 6: Scenic Overlooks & Antique Shops

Cabin 2: The Invitation

My heart nearly lept out of my chest with excitement. And yet the lump in my throat was hard to swallow. I was paralyzed with delightful dread at the thought of a personal invitation from Jesus.

“What kind of an invitation?” I asked. Again, still wondering who the prankster was on the other end of the phone. Yet this made sense of the surreal surroundings. The strange hue of sunlight creating a sunrise-twilight effect in my room. The cloudy haze making the world around me seem somehow clearer. Whether I was dreaming or not it did not matter. Whatever realm of consciousness I was inhabiting in that moment, it had me in a very real conversation with the Jesus I have known for so long. And I was going to give Him my full attention. Continue reading Cabin 2: The Invitation

Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 2)

The next time someone makes you feel guilty for taking a much needed vacation, consider sharing with them the following case for biblical rest and vacation. (Note: The following make the case for both a weekly day off (sabbath rest) and occasional extended vacations (a week or two)).

We are a mess without sabbath. I think sabbath rest is largely an unAmerican practice. America prides itself in hard work, ambition, self-determination and getting ahead. “The early bird gets the worm” describes the folk wisdom of our founding Father’s better than Jesus’ invitation to “Consider the lilies, they neither toil nor spin, and God takes care of them…” Compared to other countries around the world, Americans work longer days, take less vacation days, bring our work home more, and value “getting ahead” and “climbing the career ladder” more than most. How is this working for us? We’re richer than most but also lead the world in mental health issues, unhappiness, discontentment, broken marriages and dysfunctional families (often due to placing career advancement over family priorities). Are we working ourselves to death? Are we not busier than we’ve ever been as a society and least content?

We were hardwired for sabbath. Built into our DNA (and the entire created order) is the need for a healthy, balanced work-rest rhythm. God worked for 6 days and then rested on the 7th. We are hardwired to do the same. There are times to cultivate the fields, plant and harvest; and then there are time we are to let the ground lie fallow and rest. Our minds, bodies, souls and spirits require the same fallow time of healing and rest. We are human beings, not human doings. Our value and worth is defined by our creator who made us in His Image; our self-worth and value is not defined by how much we accomplish, how well we perform, and whether or not we met our daily quota at work. Do we believe this? If so, does our actual behavior line up with this belief?

God modeled sabbath. Again, if God chose to rest a full day after working 6, then what makes us think we can outwork God? Why do we think we can go 20 days without a sabbath, when God modeled a 6 + 1 rhythm? Jesus also modeled healthy boundaries and restorative times with God alone. He didn’t heal every person who came up to him. He didn’t go to every city that awaited his message. He had limits and knew them.  Continue reading Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 2)

Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 1)

I’m currently trying to enjoy some time away from work — for me that means church related stuff and ministry situations. My email ‘Out of the Office’ notice is on, and my voicemail alerts people that I am not taking calls.

I asked our leadership team not just for a vacation (which typically means family time, traveling, etc.) but for a “spiritual renewal leave” which I define as time away from day-to-day tasks (sermon prep, meetings) and ministering to people (a drain for a high introvert) to engage fully in things that are truly life-giving and soul-recharging. Since I’m a high introvert who is constantly surrounded by people, this means spending a lot of time alone.

I’m largely spending my time reading 2 or 3 good books (both pastor-related and just for fun), reading those books on the boat or while sipping a drink by a pool/beach, doing some writing to stimulate my brain muscles and spark fresh inspiration for future sermon series, and, of course, playing some golf and doing some lawn work. I also try to catch up with a friend or two outside my normal church social circle and possibly browse a guitar store or two. Continue reading Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 1)

WWJD: Go Sit by a Lake!

“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake” (Matt. 13:1).

The Christian life is largely about imitating the spiritual habits and behaviors of Jesus. Now, many of Jesus’ teachings and practices are rigorous and demanding. E.g., “If you want to be my disciple you must first deny yourself and take up your own cross.”

Yet, some of Jesus’ practices are so easy and simple they escape us. We assume they are unimportant details and we jump right over them without a second thought. One such example is this passing comment in Matthew 13:1.

Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.

Boom! Do you want to be more like Jesus? Do you want to do something spiritual? Turn the TV off and go sit by a lake for a while. Leave your cubicle on your lunch break today and take a walk in the woods. You just might find yourself feeling closer to God. Your ears might be opened a bit wider to His “still, soft whisper.”

Of course, we industrious Americans usually feel guilty sitting by the lake in the middle of a work day while everyone else is racing around trying to get ahead. Ahead of what exactly? Well, one person many are “getting ahead” of is Jesus himself, who knew the importance of slowing down, “considering the lilies of the field and the birds of the air” (Matt. 6), and constantly finding ways to stay connected to our Heavenly Father.

There’s a powerful two-fold movement here in this simple statement: Jesus went away from something in order to go toward something else.  Continue reading WWJD: Go Sit by a Lake!