After 23 years of service here at FHBC, the congregation has graciously granted me a 12-week sabbatical for rest and renewal. So this Sunday will be my last time with you for a few months. We will certainly have opportunity to interact with many of you at the grocery store, at graduation open houses, at youth sporting events and at weddings. But I will be laying down the title of “pastor” for a season.
I wasn’t sure what to think when first presented with this opportunity. Receiving a sabbatical almost felt like a sign of weakness. And in truth, it is a sign of weakness. It is a humble recognition of my morality. I have blind spots and limited reserves and emotional deficits. If even Jesus had to step away for seasons of refreshment with the Father, who am I to think that I can go on serving indefinitely? For this reason, rest is an important discipline. It is one of the ways that we humble ourselves before God.
Not everyone has the opportunity to take a multi-week sabbatical. But God intends for each of us to rest on a regular basis. God set apart one day each week. We are to step away from the things that occupy the other six days of the week (Genesis 2:2- 3). This was to be a regular reminder that God was the Creator and they were crea- tures (Exodus 20:8-11). It was to remind us that God is our Deliverer (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). Following this pattern would seem to be easy. Who doesn’t look forward to a day off! But the nation of Israel struggled to obey this instruction. Their refusal to rest was a statement of arrogance. And God determined that he would give rest to the land—even if it meant sending Israel into exile. God is serious about rest!
So I urge you to make rest a regular discipline. It will mean eliminating competing activities. It will require you to face your anxieties and fears and insecurities. You will have get off the gerbil wheel of activity. It will require you to humble yourself and acknowledge that God—not you—is the one who is holding the universe together. But it will be worth it.
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