Take time to breathe. Inhale the natural creation around you, exhale the anxiety the fabricated world implants in your soul. Six seconds in, six seconds out. Take at least one day each week for yourself. Take a walk, a hike, go for a ride, or for a row. Enjoy the people you love, and let there be zero doubt possible they know you love them.
I challenge you to take your rest to the next level as often as you feel necessary – but at least once per year – and make it a day to purge your mind. Here’s how it works. Pick a spot; a hammock by a lake, on the sand by the ocean, at the top of a mountain overlooking the range – anywhere secluded and quiet that brings your soul peace. Take a bag lunch. Sit for 8 hours and just listen. If you practice a spiritual faith, bring your text and read. I bring my Bible when I take a silent Sabbath. If you do this, you will notice around hour 4 that your mind finally quiets down and your thoughts clear. That’s how long it takes our brains to flip through all the thoughts that build up and clutter the file storage of our minds. Our brains are not designed for the constant barrage of ideas, suggestions, regrets and accusations today’s culture relentlessly buries us under. Silent rest is the shovel to dig your way out.
El Shaddai is a Hebrew name that helps us understand the nature of God. But El Shaddai is not a word. Rabbinical scholars that study the original Hebrew deduce that El Shaddai is a compilation of words. IF this arrangement is meant to be a name, it would me “the God who knows when to say enough“. Do you feel your soul release as it breathes out that phrase? “Enough“, like a cry for mercy. “Enough“, like a call for grace. “Enough“, like laying down to rest.
God accepts you ONLY as you are because of Jesus. Rest and live in that confidence.
Shel Silverstein tells a narrative of pure love and the model of Jesus in a short story about a tree and a boy in ‘The Giving Tree’. The boy and the tree grow together, with the tree sacrificing part of itself to serve and care for the boy in each phase of life. From providing a snack in the form of an apple, shade from the summer sun, lumber to explore the world and live an adventure, to finally having only a stump the now elderly man could sit and rest upon, the tree consistently lays itself down in the best interest of the boy. The boy consumes every provision the tree offers, growing from the nurturance, accepting the pieces of the tree to construct a vessel for his adventure, then resting on all the tree has left to give.
The lesson in this story is bilateral. The perspective we bring from our season of life and personal experience determine how we will apply the morals.
On one side, the tree is enabling the boy. It is giving, giving, and giving again until there is nothing left of itself. When we spend all of our time focused on emptying ourselves into others, we risk becoming a shell of a person. You cannot pour from an empty cup, we must take time to be refilled and maintain relationships which are mutually investing.
From the opposite side, the tree represents Christ. In the time Jesus spent walking the earth, He was growing with us. Physically growing, and exemplifying emotional and spiritual growth to ultimately bring us closer to God. He gave until there was nothing physical left He could provide. Broken, disabled, mangled and physically dead, all that remained was a place to sit quietly and rest. And still, He provided.
Who are you? The boy who consumes? The giver who enables and invites themselves into a situation of unilateral love and is left empty? Or the grown man who now sees all the sacrifice the tree has made to provide for you, even if your appreciation is long overdue?