Sacred Rest

I saw a funny T-shirt recently. It said:


Funny, right? A pretty familiar story, Mark 4 recounts the story of a very busy day in Jesus’ life. He had been teaching by the sea and such a crowd appeared that he got into a boat and spoke to the crowds from the water. The acoustics were probably better. The img_5732sun was probably hot, the crowd was probably tough. Well, I don’t really know that, but the story says He taught the crowd in parables. Sounds exhausting. Later when the crowd had dispersed and He was alone with his disciples and a few others, they asked him to explain the parables even further. Then later still, verse 34 says: “He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.”  That’s a lot of talking and teaching. Sounds like a full days work but his day still wasn’t over:

 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Ever have a day like that? You work and give and talk and teach and care and then do it all over again at least a dozen times? Then just when you finally think you can get a little break, a little peace and quiet… a great storm arises. Maybe not a literal storm, but interruptions, nuisances, aggravations, accusations, or the unexpected. Where is the peace, the calm, the still, the rest?

I recently read a book that addressed peace, calm, and rest img_5722from a fresh, creative perspective. Sacred Rest was written by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a medical doctor familiar with the serious negative physical, emotional, and spiritual effects that lack of rest produces in our bodies.

Merriam-Webster lists several definitions of the word “sacred” but the two that seem to shout the loudest about stilling the busyness of our minds and lives are these: dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity and highly valued and important.

When I first picked up the book, I expected the typical clichéd responses about rest: you need eight hours sleep, remember the Sabbath, be still and know, take some time for yourself, you can’t give away what you don’t possess, etc… What I actually found were unique ideas about various forms of rest I had never recognized or encountered…so much more than I ever expected. As I read real-life stories of actual people who struggled img_5730with physical and emotional pain, unrest, or turmoil, I saw bits of myself through the words of the author and through the eyes of the Great Physician. I walked along side people who felt guilty for resting, who felt the need to perform, who were so busy doing…they weren’t just living and loving and being.

Physical rest we understand. Mental rest? Emotional, spiritual, social, sensory, creative? Connections I hadn’t recognized or at least hadn’t let my mind fully understand.

Being in health care, it was easy for me to see through the eyes of the author, an internal medicine physician. I recalled many faces of patients I had seen who complained of anxiety, pain, sleeplessness, poor memory, exhaustion, img_5726personal conflict, and a myriad of other symptoms either real or perceived. I remembered countless faces of people in tears about the feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or simply feeling overwhelmed by busyness, responsibilities, and hectic schedules. I also saw parents and kids, husbands and wives, friends, and other relationships staring blankly at phones and other devices rather than interacting with one another while waiting in the lobby or in the exam rooms. So many were not alone, but were isolated or lonely. Still, but not resting and at peace. They were going and working and doing and getting…and yet still wondering why they felt hollow, scattered, or heavy-laden. I have been there too.

Healing occurs when we allow ourselves the time, space, and grace to be in the presence of God in the middle of our busy lives.

As I write this, it is two days before Christmas. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The time when people are busy working, shopping, preparing, traveling, visiting. A sacred time of year when we celebrate Immanuel, God with us. But do we slow down and remember why he came?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

This is not a book review; although I do highly recommend the book. I have been both challenged and encouraged by the stories, the fresh ideas and suggestions, and the tools the author provides. But this is more of an observation, a testimony to the fact that we are busy and bustling but are still often weary, worn, and isolated. It’s also an acknowledgment and reminder that we often don’t realize the impact that the stress, busyness, and lack of true rest have on our lives, our health, our responses, and our relationships. It’s a call to recognition, to renewal, to restoration, to rest. A call to lay down the burdens, still our minds and our bodies, quieten our devices, gather our loved ones, and bask in the gift of today. Be still and know.

“Peace! Be still!”  “Who then is this, that even the wind and waves obey him?” 



…may you never become so busy you neglectimg_5736 to enjoy the life you create.   Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith  #SacredRest

Thankful For The Written Word

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.   2 Tim 3:16-17

We have lots of i’s in our home: iPods, iPads, iPhones. All of our i’s have apps: games, learning, productivity, photo editing, reading… We have iBooks, Kindle, Nook, and school and regional library reading apps. FullSizeRender (1)It’s amazing really…all the devices combined can hold thousands of books, probably more than I could read in a life time. I also have several digital bibles and can switch back and forth between versions faster than I could ever flip the old fashion chapter index tabs. But…newer doesn’t necessarily mean better. While I appreciate the convenience and portability of these devices,  they definitely change the landscape of the reading experience. Swiping the electronic screen Processed with Moldivto the next page doesn’t have the same aesthetic sound and feel as the repetitive swish of a finger seeking the next page. Bookmarking feels incomplete. Electronic highlighting doesn’t feel like the old familiar act of blazing a trail through the sentences, drawing the most important words to the forefront of vision and memory.

While it’s convenient to download a book at home with the mere touch of a button, I still love to stroll the crowded aisles of bookstores, inspect the wares, flip the pages. I like displays that attract and please the eyes. I like books that entice with classy, well-designed covers. I’m always drawn to the bible display: bibles of every size and color and translation. I like leather bibles..the smell, the crisp pages, the words of Jesus emboldened red. Heavy. Weighted with truth, glory, and promise. I write personal notes, reminders, and whispers or shouts of encouragement in the margins and flip back through in remembrance during times of need and wondering. A finger here, a bookmark there, a scrap of paper, a church bulletin, an old picture…Searching for truth, for just the right word.

Not everyone is as fortunate. Some are forced to hide their word. They steal hidden, forbidden glances…then they hide it in their hearts. They risk all for the written word, the living Word. I am thankful that, at this moment in time,thankful I can write the word, speak the work, possess the word with no immediate fear. I can share the word, sing the word, frame it on my wall, write it on my doorpost, or even tattoo on my skin if I choose. There is power and remembrance in both the spoken word and the written word.

I’m also thankful for the teachers, scholars, and students of the word who have researched, learned, listened, and then taught the word..sometimes forging the written word into expanded narratives, challenging lessons, and thoughtful ponderings.

These are the written words I’ve been exploring during the last few weeks. giftsI am thankful that I don’t have to hide them, thankful they are readily available, and thankful for the weight I feel in my hand as I hold them and the lightness in my heart when I read them. bethmoorebook

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”       Psalm 119:105