“Rest”- A Four-Part Formation Series
By: Brian Crenshaw
As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us are catching our breath from a summer filled with excitement from longer days, outside adventures, kids out of school, and travels.
Some may be worn down by the busyness of fall as we start back to school, detox from ice cream, get back in regular work routines, and launch back into “normal life.”
With this backdrop, now sits Thanksgiving, a day for gratitude, time spent with loved ones, a day full of celebration through feasting, coupon clipping, backyard football, and ceasing from work. For me, Thanksgiving has always been a favorite holiday. I enjoy it because, in reality, it is one that our family actually slows down and rests.
Thanksgiving is a time our family attempts as best as it can to recuperate from summer and the start of fall and prep for Christmas and The New Year.
Thanksgiving sits as a bridge from the past year and the new one. It allows us to look back on the past year with thankful hearts and rest as we start to turn towards the new one coming.
As we enter Thanksgiving week, my desire is for you all to join me in a four-day series to look deeper at rest. We will look at rest through the lens of Shalom, Sleep, Sabbath, and Self-Identity. As you read through this, weigh it against Scripture and see how the Holy Spirit is leading you.
These are themes that I am trying to get my heart around and felt it would be great to journey in this together. May we all journey towards a season, day, or moment of rest together so we may re-engage with full hearts that strive for God’s Kingdom.
As you read the word “rest,” what comes to mind?
Maybe it is “ahhhh, I need rest and can’t wait to just lay up on the couch with the remote or phone or book and veg” or maybe it feels restrictive like “I feel like my parents want me to go to bed, but I’m not tired and want to catch up with my friends”.
Maybe it even feels like a myth because you do not see it and do not think it exists. Rest might feel like a good thought. The word and idea sound great but sometimes do not feel attainable. Almost like the idea of winning the lottery, it is fun to dream about, but in reality, it isn’t happening. Or maybe it is a feeling of “yeah that used to be part of my life before kids or my busy career or caring for my elderly family member.”
Hopefully, we are striving and being hard workers spiritually that need rest. Rest is a gift of recovery after we give it our all for what God has called us to be about.
What does it even mean, and what does it have to do with regards to spiritual formation? Below are a few questions to think about over the next few days.
As we head into Thanksgiving week, you will receive a four-day devotional that walks through different aspects of Rest.
Day One: “Rest and Shalom,” Day Two: “Rest and Sleep,” Day Three: “Rest and Sabbath,” and Day Four: “Rest and Self-Identity.” For this week, please answer and reflect on the following…
Why should I rest?
Does all rest look the same?
Is rest as simple as sleep or not doing work?
Do I feel guilty when I rest?
When was the last time you felt well-rested?
How do I rest well?
What keeps me from rest?
As we wrap up the introduction, here are some final thoughts from a book called “Liturgy of the Ordinary” by Tish Harrison Warren.
She writes “In Jewish culture, days begin in the evening with the setting of the sun. (We see this in Genesis 1 with the repetition of “And there was evening, and there was morning.”) The day begins with rest. We start by settling down and going to sleep. This understanding of time is powerfully reorienting, even jarring, to those of us who measure our days by our efforts and accomplishments.
The Jewish day begins in seemingly accomplishing nothing at all. We begin by resting, drooling on our pillow, dropping off into helplessness. Eugene Peterson says, “the Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace. We go to sleep, and God begins his work.” Though the day begins in darkness, God is still at work, growing crops, healing wounds, giving rest, protecting, guarding, mending, redeeming.”
A few years ago, I was blessed to go on a sabbatical for four weeks. In the first four days, my mind, body, and spirit started to renew and reform. One thing I noticed and still carry to this day is that the first thing to come alive during all of this was my thankfulness. My thankfulness was directly correlated to rest. In times where my thankfulness is low and my despair, criticalness, and lack of faith are high, I go back to the question “am I rested”?
Maybe we start this Thanksgiving with rest just as our Jewish forefathers started their day with sleep and in doing so, feel hearts that are refreshed and full, ready to practice Thankfulness. May we all in search of rest, find rest and grace.