Its’ getting harder to keep a Sabbath. Busyness and agendas keep creeping in. I can feel the threads of my spirit fraying a bit as I try to keep certain energies going. I have five major presentations to give before Sunday evening, and on the quiet morning walk I just returned from, I heard in my heart once again that none of this is up to me. It’s so odd to think of success in Kingdom terms. In the end, the gathered people of God are there to worship Him and seek Him out, and it is His work to move in us to provide welcome and respite to the seekers who He is calling. All that sounds like so much religious hoo-haa, but in practical terms, there is always a gut-check to make. In the gospels, Jesus works hard in getting the word out about the Kingdom, but he doesn’t try to overcome objections. In other words, his means of persuasion is not with fancy words or arguments. He loves people, enters fully into his moments with them, helps them if he can, then states the truth and walks away. But in Acts 2, Peter warns them (that’s a verb you can use for Jesus, too), and pleads with them. Paul later says he demolishes arguments, and his ministry usually begins by contending with people in the synagogues.
Here’s the point. In the mysterious moments of decision making, in those exchanges where a preacher or pastor is inviting people to be a part of God’s work, His Kingdom, and His salvation life, what part of the work belongs to the human, and what part belongs to God? “Work like it depends on you, pray like it depends on God” is an old saw that speaks to this some, but we live in a culture of celebrity and CEO pastors, where stories are spun with polish and grace, and tears supplement nearly every message. I can tell you that the tears makes sense to me: I’ve told enough pulpit stories now to know that flesh and blood folks are listening, and if you care about the intersection of their lives with God’s, and if you are bringing your own deep heart to each message, you’d have to a brick to not tear-up. Lives hanging in the balance of change is plenty to be moved by.
All this to say we give up Sabbath solitude and rest far too easily. I say “we”: in this moment, I just mean me. The spiritual journey–I’m beginning to believe this more and more–is out of step with the culture, and to walk with God will challenge you and cost you in every waking moment. Sacrifice is real, except it’s really not much sacrifice, especially considering what people are facing in Kisumu, Kenya, and other parts of a cruel, unjust, and impoverished world.
Ignoring Sabbath is, at its heart, a breach of trust.
Going back to Sabbath…