Embracing Rest and Renewal in the New Year
by Kim Allen, Director of SHINE Children's Ministry
What is it about January that always gives me a new perspective? If I didn’t live in Florida, I’d say it’s the snow. It’s almost like a clean slate, a blank canvas. Whatever it is, it’s a renewal that is welcome in my world.
In fact, I desperately need it.
Renewal is something God treasures too. He promises it over and over in His Word. He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). There is a finiteness to us, not just in our ultimate end, but in our hours and days, that requires His constant renewal. This is why adults get tired. Not just tired of washing socks and fixing flat bike tires, but we get tired of working on marriage and parenting and friendship and paying bills and volunteering and serving and giving. We just simply run out of steam. We come to the end of ourselves.
The good news is that this is Jesus’ specialty. The Fountain of Life offers His living water to us (John 7:37-39). After all, He has lived in this tired, old world and He knows every struggle, every obstacle, every battle that we face because He Himself has experienced it (Hebrews 4:15). He boldly invites us: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” His resurrection is the guarantee that in Him, and Him alone, we find new life.
The magic word for renewal with me in this passage is rest. Not a vacation or a girls’ night out, but rest for my soul, because God’s rest is truly restorative. There have been seasons of life when I just had to call a time-out. Let me off this train! NOW. And while those times are no fun, sometimes they are absolutely necessary.
But there are other options for us too. God, in His infinite wisdom, has given us a pattern for rest. He calls it the Sabbath. Because He knew that we would get tired (remember, He knows we are dust!), He offers the Sabbath rest as an ongoing gift to us, to help keep us from getting overbooked and overwhelmed.
But a gift is no good to us unless we open it. We can choose to leave it on the shelf, still wrapped and unopened. We forget that choosing one thing means not choosing something else. Therein lies the rub. What do we leave off the schedule so that Sabbath rest can happen? For every person, this question is answered differently but there is no doubt that in today’s world if you don’t make your choice, it will be made for you.
The pattern of Sabbath rest requires practice and patience, especially if this pattern is new to us. There are resources that help us embrace rest and renewal. Remember: it is a gift to us from the One who made us and offers His unending supply to meet every demand. God’s Sabbath rest is not an inducement to legalism; it is an invitation to freedom.
In many ways, January provides us with opportunities for new patterns of living. In Sabbath renewal, we will find rest for our souls. What soul patterns might God reveal to you as you consider the blank canvas of 2017?
- Margin by Richard Swenson“
- Wisdom and Sabbath Rest”, an essay by Tim Keller
- Three Reasons to Practice Sabbath Rest (from theologyofwork.org)
The Breadbox is our Children's Ministry email. This monthly publication arrives chock-full information about SHINE, but also tips and resources on how you can disciple your small people.