Come Away With Me


Rest. The very word can evoke feelings of guilt for the average busy American. While we Americans may claim to be living in the land of the free, we often are enslaved to our driven, gadget-dependent, distracted lives. Our culture places much value on producing, working, multi-tasking. We can find ourselves so deeply entrenched in the busyness that we no longer even realize that we are living at a deficit.

Sadly our American churches reflect this philosophy. We applaud one another for being busy and fail to give priority to our souls. Quiet time with God is largely non-existent as we have committee meetings, small groups, and multiple services every week, etc. These things are not wrong. What is wrong is when we allow them to exhaust us and allow them to contribute to our disconnecting from our life source.

This issue of rest is a perpetual one for me. I find a constant need to evaluate how busy I am, reprioritize, and clear my heart, mind, and schedule of the clutter.

The very nature of my life has inherent busyness, some of which simply cannot be avoided. I wear a lot of hats.  I laughingly told a friend the other day that I totally understand what mid-life means…I stand in the middle with one arm stretched one way to family and the other arm stretched to my work/church/etc.

This week I once again found myself reading Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton. It is one of my anchor books; you know the kind you would keep if you only could possess 5 books. It challenges my leadership style, my inner values, and provides the loving in-your-face questions that every leader needs.  I have so many things underlined in this book that it looks like a road map. I keep it on my desk for use like a daily vitamin.

As I meditated on the chapter on the Sacred Rhythms in the Life of the Leader, this quote brought me pause and resonated within me. “When we keep pushing forward without taking adequate time for rest and replenishment, our way of life may seem heroic, but there is a frenetic quality to our work that lacks true effectiveness because we have lost the ability to be present to God, to be present to other people and to discern what is really needed in our situation. The result can be “sloppy desperation”: a mental and spiritual lethargy that prevents the quality of presence that would deliver true insight and spiritual leadership.”

This example so beautifully explained this truth, “Charles, a gifted physician, illustrates the point: I discovered in medical school that if I saw a patient when I was tired or overworked, I would order a lot of tests. I was so exhausted, I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on…so I got in the habit of ordering a battery of tests, hoping they would tell me what I was missing. But when I was rested-if I had the opportunity to get some sleep, or go for a quiet walk-when I saw the next patient, I could rely on my intuition and experience to give me a pretty accurate reading of what was happening…When I could take the time to listen and be present with them and their illness, I was almost always right.”

Yes! That is a perfect picture of what I have felt lately.

With my mom being in the hospital for 2 ½ weeks and my new little grandson being born, there have been a few extra things on my plate. One day in particular, I found myself having to work harder in my counseling. I found myself having to think about what to do and while that may sound reasonable, normally I can rely on my intuition. More often than not, I feel the operation of a spiritual gifting while I counsel.  I often take time in the mornings to pray for my clients and for God to touch them, for insight, healing, etc. and I feel very much present with them and able to discern where God is leading, what the woundedness is in their heart. I can hear the nuances in their stories that open the door for God to go deep into their hearts. It is an organic process, living and breathing with God and humanity.

So although I am aware that I must rest and live in balance, there are times when it is just more difficult and this has been one of them.

Barton speaks of Sabbath keeping as a principle of living  honors the body’s need for rest, the spirit’s need for replenishment and the soul’s need to delight itself in God for God’s own sake.  Barton further adds, “There is something deeply spiritual about honoring the limitations of our existence as human beings –physical and spiritual creatures in a world of time and space. There is something about establishing rhythms that are gracious and accepting of our human limits… All of these rhythms create space for God, fostering an ability to bring something truer to the world than all of our doing.”

I am echoing the sentiment of my sweet little three-year old granddaughter who says it this way, “I want to go beach.” And whether or not I get to go to the beach (a benefit of living in Alabama; we are never too far away from the beach or the mountains!), I am making serious arrangements for more rest in my schedule.

What is God speaking to you today? Do you need to prioritize rest? Face with humility your limitedness? Find ways to be filled?

Mark 6:31 Jesus said, “…come away with me to a quiet place and get some rest…”

Song of Solomon 2:10-13 “My lover spoke to me, saying: “Arise, my darling; My beautiful one, come away with me! Look! The winter has passed, the winter rains are over and gone. The pomegranates have appeared in the land, the time for pruning and singing has come; the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree has budded, the vines have blossomed and give off their fragrance. Arise, come away my darling; my beautiful one, come away with me!”


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Categories : Soul Care, Uncategorized

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