Faith, Gardening, life, relationships, Spiritual Encouragement, Uncategorized
Comments 3

Set-Apart: a Sabbath of Sorts

Balsamroot blooms as far as I can see, a sunny carpet beneath the scraggly bull pines. The well-worn path winds round rocks and under low branches and through the sea of gold.

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I unleash the corgis and they scamper and sniff while I take stock of the northern wildflowers in bloom this mid-May day. The yellow, daisy-like bunches of balsamroot steal the show, but upon closer look, I see the splay-leafed lupine beginning to rise, the feathery-leafed yarrow, and a groundcover of purple phlox peeking beneath the swaying grasses. The purple Grass Widow with her downturned bonnet and the sunny buttercup – our first wildflowers of spring have quietly faded, unseen until next March.

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Just down the street, I tend to my own garden. I plant, spray and dig cultivating my flowerbeds into a three-season bloomfest. But here, where neighborhood meets county land, I am quieted. I feel no urge to transplant or yank weeds or examine for pests. I simply rest in the day’s unique beauty: the dry crunch of pine-needles underfoot, the whir of a nuthatch and the yammering crow combine to my ears like a Benedictine chant. Words I cannot decipher, but know to be holy.

Sabbath, the day we modern Christians usually call “Sunday”, derives from an ancient Hebrew word meaning rest, to cease, to end.

Through the centuries, Jews and Christians have made Sabbath in many ways, making it a law unto itself. No work, no fun, nothing. While there is good in the breaking from the normal toil and patterns of daily life to reflect on the Lord of the Sabbath, a day of rest is also a prophetic lens into the future and a perpetual invitation to set apart time to simply be in the creative, regenerating presence of God.

God blessed the day and made it holy {Genesis 2:3}, thus began the first Sabbath.

He enjoyed all he’d made. He called it good. Later, when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, and God instructed him to lead a people who followed a holy God. They were told to take a Sabbath day each week and a Sabbath year each seventh year {Exodus 34:21, Leviticus 25}. Finally, after seven Sabbath years, they were to observe a year of Jubilee dedicated to study scripture, to restore the land, free slaves and forgive debts. A full year of rest–and restoration– for everyone!

When I walk the path near my house, free of contrived plans or landscaping tools, my soul is rested and I am reminded that there will be a Sabbath, a Jubilee, a brilliant promise of being in the presence of my God. I think of Jesus’ words, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” {John 14:}

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Until then, we are invited to take a walk, to break from our daily work and notice the mercy of God, his tender keeping of our souls, his commitment to creation and re-creation. We hear it in the the beauty underfoot and the song overhead:

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;

for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,just as God did from his.

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.” {Hebrews 4:9-11a}

“Make every effort” sounds like work, and indeed it is, but the invitation to enter God’s rest is as irresistible as a path of balsamroot and a sparrow’s call.

But the effort is well-paid, the rest settles in deep, instructs the soul to move to another rhythm, a better rhythm. The Sabbath rest we are invited to enjoy is not a Sunday nap or a list of no-working-rules, rather it’s intentionally looking for the entrance, the door, and rerouting your steps toward being with God. “Rest from your works…follow after God…make every effort to enter that rest.”

Take a walk into rest with me. What satisfaction awaits when you “make every effort to enter that rest”?

 

Linked up with other sabbath stories at The High Calling and at Kelli Woodford’s lovely writing blog.

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3 Comments

  1. It does take me great effort to have a Sabbath. It’s rarely something I can decide to do on the spur-of-the-moment, but rather something I have to plan for. But that’s okay. It’s worth it and I need to do it more often. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. What a life-giving concept Sabbath can be when viewed through your lens, Alyssa. Thank you for this. I love when my unexamined definitions of words are turned upside down … and end up better for the process.

    Glad to see you at Unforced Rhythms this week. 🙂

  3. hisfirefly says

    making the effort is well worth it
    each.and.every.time.
    still waiting for our first flowers here in the Great White North

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