“Ya, Jesus is our rest, that’s all good. But what do I do?”
This might be a common response to a post like a previous one on rest. If you have not read that post, please do so.
As I stated in that posting, rest is a Person. Jesus is our Rest. This is about relationship not merely an experience nor a removal of yuck stuff in life. A more tactile question might be: “How do I experience rest?” Which is to ask, how do I grow in my communion with Jesus?
Spiritual Practices Come into Play
We have to keep first things first. Our habitual response when life is not going well is to ask, what is wrong with me (or God)? What do I need to do? I’ve got to figure this out!
All such questions and statements place our gaze firmly upon ourselves and breed fear and doubt. And so we resolve once again to pray harder, try harder and believe more. However, we will struggle to find rest in our best efforts, for rest is found in a Person not our efforts. Jesus is our rest. He rests in us. He invites us to enter into his rest.
“Come to Me.”
Jesus says to all of us weary souls, “Come to me.”
Spiritual practices are our responses to that invitation. They facilitate permitting the Spirit to draw us deeper into communion with Jesus. The key is the focus is not on my efforts, but allowing these practices to turn our gaze toward Christ. Here are a few examples.
Taking Sabbath seriously is a way of accepting the invitation to come to Jesus. One day a week we cease and desist from anything that even smells of work. This is not a day off after a hard week’s work. No, it is the day of the week we delight ourselves in the Lord which will inform and shape the next 6 days of the week. As I allow Jesus to teach me to rest in him on Sabbath, he will teach me to carry rest (i.e. him) into my demanding work days.
During each of those work days, I maintain a sabbath-posture by responding to his invitation to come to him through other practices. These vary for each of us. We must have alone time with him (solitude, silence, stillness) each day. For it is there we are taught to rest in him. Occasionally, like monthly, we seek more extended times of solitude with him (this emulates Jesus’ modeling to us. See Luke 5:15-16). We linger in his word – no hit and run snacks here – true lingering on a regular basis to be fed by he who is the Bread of Life. We make time to enter into small groups of community. All such practices make space for us to be receptive and responsive to him.
Back to the Beginning Again
So yes, our spiritual practices do play a role in rest. But what I do is not the rest, Jesus is my rest. My spiritual practices are merely deliberate choices on my part to come to him.
Caution in Shepherding
As shepherds we want to pay attention to what we direct others to do when they come to us with their struggles. We want to avoid “casting them back on themselves again” (a phrase I learned from James Torrence). We do not counsel people to double down in their efforts. We bring Jesus to them and direct their gaze from themselves back to Jesus. It is wise to be mindful that others may need some coaching or spiritual direction in how this looks in the specific context they find themselves in.
What are you seeing in your shepherding work regarding the place of spiritual practices amongst global workers?
You say important things here about the function of spiritual disciplines and the ease with which we can misunderstand their role and intended function. More later…inshallah (as my local friends would say about a hope that is, yes, a plan, but not yet a plan with a dedicated time to work on it and a due date…).
Just wanted to say how much I appreciated this. They were meaningful to me – thanks for taking the time to reflect and put this together.
Bless you bro. You are doing a good work there. Miss spending time with you. Thanks for checking in. SES