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No Requiem for Rest

This last season of my life and ministry has been a major challenge. I outlined some of those struggles in the ‘When Life Sucks’ entry. As we could sense those struggles coming to an end, we along with the Vertical Church board saw it necessary for us to take some much needed time off. So, my wife and I set sail on a 7-day cruise on the largest ship on the seas.

Rest is one of those areas that pastors and spiritual leaders ignore with great frequency. They put their nose to the Kingdom grindstone and don’t stop until they drop dead far too soon with broken marriages and horribly wounded children in their wake. As if it’s God’s will that that we burn ourselves out dramatically. The martyrdom He has in mind for us is a daily death to self or even a more glorious beheading in His wonderful name. Not, by making His church an idol that we sacrifice ourselves to some twisted devotion. How can we reject rest when God Himself gave it to us as a gift.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11 ESV

I know of no true pastor, elder, or church leader that would speak against the 10 Commandments, but far too many ignore the one above. My wife and I make sure we do our best to keep all 10 of them. I wonder how many spiritual leaders would lead better lives if they would just have a weekly Sabbath, just a thought.

Make no mistake about it I love the church. The church of Jesus Christ is the one institution He left us. I will also say proudly that I love Vertical Church ATL. I am honored to lead this small portion of His larger church. But, I pray for the courage to walk away should it threaten my marriage, my son, or my health. So, we have a rhythm to ensure that we care for ourselves effectively; it is once a week, a quarter, and once a year. We take a weekly Sabbath, a quarterly get away, and a yearly sabbatical. This keeps us in a healthy rhythm.

So, we found ourselves on a balcony overlooking the ocean, watching the sun dancing off the waves in rhythmic synchronization. The sky painted with felt tip in hues of blues, purples, oranges, and white. More often than not resisting the temptation to try to add a musical soundtrack to the symphony God created. The bass of the waves were playing against the treble of the wind and I found myself lost in thoughts of nothing and everything. I would look out and see other’s arms hanging over the side of the boat enjoying the same ensemble being played before us.

I found my wife retreating to similar moments of blissful ease. All of the stress, worry, busy work floated away. I couldn’t help but think, ‘We were made to do this’. Made to rest. Our bodies have a limit and God knew that when He designed us. We can wear ourselves out, shortening our life’s spans as if we are doing God a favor. WE WERE MADE TO REST! We expect pastors to kill themselves and then we curse them for dying.

Even though we have our healthy rhythms, we still needed to escape to ensure our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. If we didn’t have that, we would have burned out years ago. I want to be here for as long as possible. I have waited a long time to live in my calling, and I don’t want it to be over too quickly. I’m having too much fun. If I am going to have a quality life, a healthy family, and a ministry I am proud of, then rest will continue to be a part of our regime. There will be no end of intentional and strategic rest in our lives. 

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