3 Ways Abiding in Christ Can Change You: Keeping

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I have three grandsons. They are all born to the same parents and they all live in the same household. Yet they each have a distinct personality.

One of the ways they differ is in their “cuddle factor.” One grandson prefers to be loved from afar. You need to grab a hug and then let him go. Even as a toddler, he would often try to wriggle from my grasp. Another grandson loves to be held. He is generous with hugs and loves to snuggle during storybook time. The third grandson is somewhere in the middle. He will tolerate hugs, but not too many.

In my own spiritual life, I sometimes act like each of these grandsons. Let me explain.

During my study of the word “abide” I began with John 15:5:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

I learned that the Greek word translated abide in that verse is the word meno. I was surprised that one of the meanings of meno is “to be held, kept, continually.”

In my previous blog post on abiding, I talked about how my focus has often been on producing fruit instead of abiding. I have concentrated on doing “important” things for God, instead of staying connected to Christ.

But the meaning of the Greek word for abide informs me that not only can I not produce fruit on my own, I cannot even abide in my own strength. To abide is not to hang on tight, but “to be held.”  To abide is not continually keep my grip on Christ, but “to be kept.”

3 WaysAbiding in ChristCan Change Your LifeKeeping

What’s the difference?

I am not the one doing the holding or the keeping. Jesus is.

South African pastor Andrew Murray puts it this way in his book Abiding in Christ:

The soul has but to yield itself to Him, to be still and rest in the confidence that His love has undertaken and that His faithfulness will perform the work of keeping it safe in the shelter of His bosom.

and

Abiding in Jesus is nothing but the giving up of oneself to be ruled and taught and led, and so resting in the arms of Everlasting Love.

I have to admit that I am often not very good at this abiding thing. I am often much more like the grandson who resists being held. It seems too passive–too static. Give me a four-point plan and I’m ready to take action. But to sit still and listen to the Lord? To admit I can’t do it by myself? That’s hard to embrace. (Pun intended.)

I’m asking God to help me be more like the grandson that loves to be held. To teach me to rest in His love. To give me the strength to give myself up to “be ruled and taught and led.”

Abiding is keeping. But it is not my keeping. It is God’s keeping, protecting, and holding my soul. My job is to not wriggle away from His grasp. To not resist His hold on my life.

Next step: Write a prayer thanking God for His strong and loving hold on your life. Ask Him to teach you to abide in that love and to not wriggle away from His grasp.

 

Practicing Lent: Slowing

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This post is part of my Practicing Lent series where we will explore Spiritual Disciplines that connect us with Jesus in His Word. If you want to find out more about Spiritual Disciplines you can look here. If you have signed up for the Practicing Lent Facebook group, click here to share your experience with others. If you would like to participate in the group, click here to request to join.

I once heard a story about an American traveler on an African safari. A typical type-A American, he wanted to see as much as possible in the time he had on the continent. And because he wanted to see parts of the land where travel was difficult, he hired some local people to carry his supplies.

On the first morning, they got up early and made encouraging progress. The second morning everyone once again rose with the sun and they covered a great distance. The third day the party traveled far. But on the fourth morning, the local people simply sat under the trees and refused to move on.

The American tourist became impatient, but no amount of coaxing would get the men moving again. Finally, through an interpreter, the tourist asked what the problem was.

The translator relayed their message, “They are waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.” [Adapted from Soul Keeping (p. 130), by John Ortberg]

Have you ever felt like that? Like you have hurried through your days, sped through your tasks, even rushed through your time with God so quickly that your soul has been left behind?

I know I have.

Our society is built on hurry. We try to pack our days like we pack for a 2-week vacation–into a carry-on suitcase. I see this in the lives of my piano students who hurry from school to piano lessons to soccer practice to math tutoring. I see it in the lives of those in ministry as they rush from church services to Bible studies to community volunteering to board meetings.

I’ll bet there are days or weeks or months when you too, live in a state of hurry. Modern lives are filled with a myriad of good things and we feel we need to rush to fit them all in.

But when we stop long enough to breathe we realize that our soul has been neglected. It’s Tuesday, but it feels like our soul has been left behind at Saturday.

Slowing

To remedy this situation, I suggest we practice the Spiritual Discipline of Slowing. Perhaps this is not a typical Spiritual Discipline. A search in the concordance confirmed that God’s Word does not say “slow down” in those exact words. Yet we see this concept in Scripture when God talks about our need for rest.

God Himself rested on the seventh day of creation. He commanded His people to rest on the Sabbath.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God told the disobedient Israelites:

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

And the prophet Jeremiah declared,

Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16)

God does not want us to live a life of hurry. In these passages, we see that hurry happens when we insist on relying on our own strength and knowledge. When we feel God’s way is simply too slow and we try to hurry Him along. We step out of His ancient paths in an effort to achieve our objectives–faster.

Jesus’ Example

Perhaps the best Scriptural example of slowing was Jesus Himself. His life was not one of idleness. He was always occupied with preaching, teaching, and healing. Yet in reading the Gospels, I never have the feeling that Jesus hurried. He always took the time that was needed. Even when he was on His way to a very sick twelve-year-old girl, He stopped to speak to a woman who had touched His cloak and been healed of a long, painful illness. (Mark 5:21-33)

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Jesus told His disciples:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus didn’t say that we should sit around and do nothing. Instead, we should work with Him. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to a plow or cart. The yoke enables the animals to work together. Jesus invites us to take His yoke, work alongside Him.

I don’t know about you, but hurry frequently enters my life when I attempt to accomplish more than God intends. When I insist on trying to carry all the burdens of this life on my own. In the words of Matthew, I hear Jesus say, “Stop that. Work with me. Don’t take on too much. Don’t try to do it on your own. I have wonderful tasks planned for you, but when you work with Me, it won’t feel like hard labor or a heavy burden. It will be more like rest for your soul. Hurry won’t even enter into the equation.”

Practicing Slowness

So how can we practice slowness and eliminate hurry?

Here are a few suggestions:

Sabbath.The Lord commanded the Sabbath for a reason. He knew we needed it. Time to worship. Time to rest. Time to tend to our souls. If you don’t already observe the Sabbath, I encourage you to take one day a week to engage in corporate worship. To spend time with family and friends. To close the computer or put away the broom. Instead, spend time in God’s Word, read a good book, or take a walk in the woods. (Read more about observing Sabbath here.)

Examine your activities. Is your life one big hurry because you have taken on more than God intended? Take an hour to list all your activities and your family’s activities that involve your time. Prayerfully ask the Lord where you have stepped out of the yoke He has planned for you and tried to do things on your own.

Build a little margin in your day. I’ll admit this is still a hard one for me, but another suggestion for eliminating hurry is to allow more time between appointments and activities. Try not to schedule things back to back. When you need to go somewhere, estimate how long it will take to get there and then allow twice that amount of time. If the drive to the dentist’s office normally takes ten minutes, allow twenty. The extra margin gives you time to notice the lilacs on the way. Or really listen to the words of the song on the radio. If you arrive early, you have time to relax and breathe.

Modern life is fast. We feel we need to keep up. But Dallas Willard, an author who often writes about Spiritual Disciplines, reminds us:

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

God knows we need soul rest. And He will provide it.

Next step: Click here to access a free resource with a list of Scriptures about soul rest. Over the next five days, take time to read what God says about rest. Ask Him to teach you and invite Him to point out any changes that need to be made in your life. Thank Him for His promise of soul rest.

 

Your Top Five Posts of 2016

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2016 was quite a year! For me, it was time chock-full of family visits, writing, and volunteer work. How about you?

During January I often take time to evaluate the year before. So today I took a few minutes to check out what interested you–my readers–most in 2016. Here are your favorite five posts! Reread and be reinspired!

What to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Pray

Luke 18-13Sometimes I struggle with prayer. How to pray. What to pray. When to find time to pray. And how on earth can I accomplish prayer without ceasing? This post talks about a short prayer that I use when I don’t know what to pray. Check out this prayer that has been used for centuries.

Breathe in your Savior’s name and breathe out a desperate prayer for grace. Click To Tweet
Five Creative Ways to Encourage Someone

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Hebrews 10:24 says, Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out (The Message). I want to be an encourager, but I sometimes struggle with how to be supportive. This post gives a few ideas.

Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out. (Hebrews 10:24 MSG) Click To Tweet
7 Habits That Promote Soul Rest

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Soul rest. That’s what we all need. The kind of rest that calms our hearts. The kind of respite that obliterates restlessness in our spirits.The kind of stillness that cancels out the craziness of this world like noise-cancelling headphones wipe out any pandemonium around us.

This post introduces the concept of soul rest and the habits that can lead us into that rest by drawing us into the presence of the Lord.

Soul rest is the rest that calms our hearts. It is the rest that draws us into the presence of the Lord. Click To Tweet
When You’re Feeling Unsettled, Dissatisfied

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When I’m feeling dissatisfied with my life or when I’m feeling unsettled, it is often because I have forgotten one crucial thing. Find out what that is in this post. When we’re facing loss and discouragement, we can realize that God has already given us what we need.

Even when I'm feeling unsettled and dissatisfied, Jesus knows what I need most. Click To Tweet
How to Truly Love Yourself

1 John 4-16

This post was inspired by a devotion I read by a tenth-century monk on the four degrees of love. Click to read about these four degrees of love and how the fourth degree allows us to love ourselves so that we can love others well.

We don’t love ourselves because we deserve love. We love ourselves because we see ourselves through God’s eyes. Click To Tweet

Next step: What do you most need today? Help with prayer, encouragement, soul rest, dissatisfaction, or loving yourself? Read the corresponding article and find hope in God’s Word.

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Feeling Overwhelmed? Build in Whitespace

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The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. I attended a writers’ retreat in Door County, WI where I walked in the woods, typed on my computer, and laughed and talked with writer friends. Then I visited my mother for a few days, came home, did some laundry and repacked my suitcase. I left the next morning for Indianapolis where I attended a conference and a board meeting.

Those nine days were jam-packed. Filled with learning and working. Crammed with laughter and conversation. But there was very little whitespace.

What is whitespace?

In her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, author Bonnie Gray defines whitespace like this:

In art, whitespace is often referred to as “negative space.” It’s the space on the page absent of marks or images. We might consider the space as “blank,” but to the artist, whitespace holds beauty. It is the key element of design that gives balance to a composition, transforming a cluttered collection of objects into an aesthetic expression of what we do see.

She goes on to say:

My soul isn’t designed to be cluttered. It longs for space to taste beauty. To breathe. It’s always wanted what God intended for me.

My soul was designed for spiritual rest: spiritual whitespace.

We all need whitespace in our lives. Space for the soul to breathe. Time to connect with God and enjoy the gifts He’s given.

You might wonder, but how can I find this whitespace? My life is exactly as you described. It’s jam-packed with work, volunteer responsibilities, and family obligations. There simply is no whitespace!

I understand. And my words are not meant to drive you to book a guilt trip on the next train out.

Whitespace is a place of grace, not duty.

Start by remembering that Jesus longs to spend time with you. He desires to give you the peace and strength you need in your overwhelmed life. Come to Him to receive His grace, and not to check off one more thing on your overfilled to-do list.

Here are a few practical ideas to find whitespace, even in a busy season:

  • Get up fifteen minutes early to read Scripture and a devotion. Pray over your schedule for the day and ask Christ to be with you in every moment.
  • Or go to bed fifteen minutes early. Before going to sleep, review your day and thank God for His help and presence. Read a psalm and rest in God’s love and protection.
  • Set a timer to go off every hour. When you hear the buzz or the beep, pause for a few moments. Listen to a Christian song. Meditate on a Scripture that reminds you of Christ’s unfailing love.
  • Schedule some downtime. Because I knew my schedule was going to be overwhelmed for those nine days, I purposely created some whitespace before and after the hectic time. I set aside an afternoon on both ends to rest and read.

Jesus invited His disciples to experience whitespace when He said:

Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31)

He invites you to do the same.

Create whitespace for your soul to connect with Jesus. Even if it is only for a few minutes in a busy day, come away and rest awhile.

Next step: Choose one of the four ideas above to create a little whitespace in your life this week. Which one works best for you?

 

distracted blog headerCheck out my eCourse!  If you want more answers for your overwhelmed life, check out my Distracted eCourse.

Click here for more information.

 

 

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Feeling Overwhelmed? Embrace Boring

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The other day I sat outside and read a book. I stared out at my garden and let my mind wander. I sat so still that a robin landed about twenty-four inches from my feet and a bunny scampered right past me.

In short, I let myself be bored.

Our culture shuns boredom. Watch a group of people waiting in a doctor’s office or even in the grocery check out line and you will see most of them checking out their phones–catching up on email or playing Candy Crush. It seems we need constant stimulation.

But what if this constant stimulation is one of the causes of the constant, incessant, unrelenting sense of being overwhelmed?

What if our brains need some downtime? What if we need quiet to balance out the noise? What if we need to embrace boredom–at least sometimes?

The afternoon I took the time to sit in my yard came in the middle of a hectic season. In the past two months, I have been working on an online class, finishing a new book, and completing projects for an organization I work with. In the next few weeks, I am attending a writers retreat, speaking at a conference, and attending an out-of-town board meeting. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. So I purposely took some time to be a little bored.

Research shows that embracing times of boredom will help you focus better when it’s time to work. Cal Newport writes in his book, Deep Work,

Efforts to deepen your focus will struggle if you don’t simultaneously wean your mind from a dependence on distraction.

In other words, embrace times of boredom if you want times of sharp focus.

God tells us something similar in Isaiah:

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30:15a)

And then He adds:

But you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15b)

God sees me rushing around tries to tell me that rest is my salvation. Quietness is my strength. 

When I’m overwhelmed, I’m weak. I’m trying to do it all on my own, instead of trusting God to accomplish His will in my life.

To live an “underwhelmed” life, I have to embrace times of rest and quiet and…boredom. 

God tells me that rest is my salvation. Quietness is my strength. Click To Tweet

Because it is in those times that I am trusting God to work everything out.

Next step: Take five minutes today to embrace boredom and quiet. Look out a window and appreciate God’s creation. Or quietly meditate on a Scripture, Or sit with your eyes closed, contemplating God’s love for you.

 

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Feeling Overwhelmed? Remember Busy Doesn’t Equal Important

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What is the most common answer you hear when you ask, “How are you?”

Chances are it is, “Busy!”

And usually whoever you ask will follow up that one-word answer with a long recitation of all the work projects, Little League games, dance recitals, church activities, and volunteer responsibilities that fill up her week.

I know–because I’ve been there. Why did I fill up my schedule to overflowing?

Because somehow I believed this equation:

More activity + more tasks + more hustle and hurry = more importance.

But really that equation is only a lie. This is the true equation:

More activity + more tasks + more hustle and hurry = one overwhelmed woman.

And another equation that was also true in my life was:

Overwhelmed woman = anxiety + stress – peace – patience.

Packing more activity and tasks into my life often meant that I was checking off a lot of items from my to-do list, but I wasn’t being the wife I wanted to be. I wasn’t acting like the friend I wanted to be. My busyness made me feel more significant. But I probably made those closest to me feel less important.

Lately, I’ve been meditating on this verse from the Gospel of John:

I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do. (John 17:4)

Jesus said that.

And I notice two things in His statement: 

First, Jesus says, “I have brought You glory.” He wasn’t trying to make Himself look important. He was working to give His Father praise and honor.

Second, He doesn’t brag about all He was doing. Yes, Jesus accomplished a lot while He was on earth, but He didn’t take on any extra jobs. He simply did the work the Father gave Him.

It makes me realize that when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I need to ask myself: 

  • Why am I doing this? Is it to bring glory to God? Or is to make me feel important?
  • Who is telling me I should do this? Is God instructing me that this is part of the work He wants me to do? Or is it simply my own ego that is pushing me toward this activity?

We all need to remind ourselves that we are not important because of what we do. We are important because of who we are–daughters of the King!

We are not important because of what we do--but because of who we are--daughters of the King! Click To Tweet

Next step: Make a list of activities that are making you feel overwhelmed. For each one, ask the two questions: Why I am I doing this? Who is telling me to do this?

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3 Scriptures for Fellow Adrenaline Junkies

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Are you an adrenaline junkie?

Take this short quiz to find out. True or false:

  • you often go without sleep to accomplish tasks
  • when you stop the whirlwind of activity you feel restless
  • you only feel “up” when you’re active and busy
  • when you start to feel depressed, you turn to activity to feel better

If you answered true to any of those statements, you might be an adrenaline junkie. The more times you said “true,” the greater the likelihood you are “hooked” on the high that activity brings.

Although I hate to admit it, there have been times that I’ve been an adrenaline junkie. This important hormone is designed to increase our strength and performance during emergencies. But it also kicks in when we’re hurrying to an appointment or making a speech or meeting a work deadline. And it’s easy to get hooked on that extra sharpness and pumped up feeling that adrenaline gives.

But our bodies aren’t designed to run on adrenaline long term. If we keep pushing ourselves to do more and continue to draw on adrenaline to get it done our bodies begin to wear out. We have trouble sleeping, our immune system is compromised, and our cardiovascular system works overtime. It doesn’t take long before we feel stressed and overwhelmed.

In his book Adrenaline and Stress, Dr. Archibald Hart writes,

Many of us live our whole lives in what is essentially a constant state of emergency and hurry. We become dependent on the overproduction of adrenaline, not simply for our accomplishments, but just to survive each day.”

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be that you’ve pushed yourself too far. You’ve hurried too much. You’ve depended on the energy of adrenaline too long.

So what can you do?

Begin by asking yourself “Why? Why are you pushing yourself? Why are you hooked on activity?”

When I dug down deep to find my answer to that question, I discovered a surprising answer:

I found my worth in accomplishment.

And the more I accomplished, the better I felt about myself. So I pushed myself a little harder. I got a little more done.

Until God called me on it.

He reminded me that activity isn’t necessarily the key to strength and success:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

He reassured me that my worth is not based on my accomplishments–only on His love:

You are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you. (Isaiah 43:4)

He pointed out the importance of rest:

This is what theLord says:
“Stop at the crossroads and look around.
    Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself if you’re addicted to activity and adrenaline. If the answer is yes, ask yourself why. Like me, are you basing your worth on your busyness, your performance, your accomplishments?

Remember that God loves you for who you are–His precious child–and not for what you do.

Remember that God loves you for who you are--His precious child--and not for what you do. Click To Tweet

Next step: If you are finding yourself hooked on activity and adrenaline, choose one of the Scriptures above. Write it on a sticky note and put it where you will see it often this week.

 

distracted blog headerCheck out my eCourse!  If you want more answers for your overwhelmed life, check out my Distracted eCourse.

Click here for more information.

 

adrenaline-junkie

Seven Resources to Help You Find Soul Rest

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Life is hectic. It’s imperative that we find time to rest.

Every season of life has its demands and it we don’t care for our bodies we risk illness. We risk harming our health and losing our sanity!

And if we don’t care for our souls we risk relinquishing our peace. We compromise our joy.

I encourage all of you to take time to rest. To spend some time with family and friends. To do something you love to do, but don’t always have the time. To connect with Jesus.

To help you find the soul rest that comes from connecting with the Savior, I am listing some of my favorite resources for finding spiritual renewal. Pick one and use it this week!

seven-resources-soul-restHere are the resources, with links and a favorite quote from each:

A Place of Quiet Rest, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss: “God has a never-ending supply of grace, strength, and wisdom available that He wants to flow through us to others. And we need to keep coming back into His presence to get our supply replenished…If we fail to stop and draw from His fresh, infinite supply of mercy and grace, we will find ourselves having to operate our of our own depleted, meager resources.”

Resting Place, by Jane Rubietta: “Rest helps us find meaning in our work and relationships, gives us places to evaluate what we’re doing with our hours and our hearts, what difference it all makes. Rest–reflection, meditation, breathing in God’s presence–lowers stress, calms our heartbeat and redirects our attention from the created to the Creator.”

Satisfy My Thirsty Soul, by Linda Dillow: The “Prayer of Quiet: Dear Lord Jesus, you once spoke peace to the wind and the waves. Speak Your shalom over my heart. I wait silently…patiently. I receive into the very core of my being Your loving command, ‘Peace, be still.’ Amen.”

Finding Spiritual Whitespace, by Bonnie Gray: “Finding spiritual whitespace isn’t about carving out an hour of time to escape the things that stress us. It’s getting away from everything we do to distract ourselves from all the hidden pieces–in order to nurture our soul. Spiritual rest is a journey of awakening our hearts to fully receive.”

Soul Spa, by Sharla Fritz: “The Father invites us to solitude so we can hear His whisper above the noise of the world. He asks us to come away with Him so we can pour out the messy contents of our hearts. He beckons us to time alone so he can give us what we need.”

The Father invites us to solitude so we can hear His whisper above the noise of the world. Click To Tweet

Soul Spa Kit, free download (sign up at the below this post): “Who needs a spiritual retreat? You do. Although soul care may seem like a luxury, it is actually a necessity for your well-being. When your spirit is tired and worn, your physical self suffers too. You are less able to be the generous and kind person you want to be. Your heart cries out for more Jesus.”

7 Habits That Promote Soul RestA series of posts here on my blog that outline habits helpful for soul rest: “Ah rest, that is what I need. Soul rest. The kind of rest that would calm my heart.The kind of respite that would obliterate the restlessness in my spirit.The kind of stillness that would cancel out the craziness of this world like noise-cancelling headphones wipe out the pandemonium around me.”

Take time to rest this summer. Let the Lord restore your soul.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

Next step: Choose one resource to explore. Schedule time this week to rest in the presence of God.

Sign up to get the free Soul Spa Kit!




7 Habits That Promote Soul Rest: Personal Retreat

Jesus invites you- Come away by yourself. Get away from the busyness. Spend time in My presence and rest in my care.

I could hardly wait to get there. My bag was packed with my Bible, journal, and pen. I placed it in the trunk of my car along with a lawn chair and a water bottle.

I drove to a park near my home. After setting up my chair in a spot under a shady tree with a view of the lake, I opened my Bible to read and opened my heart to receive God’s Word.

It was my morning for a personal spiritual retreat.

When my soul is worn thin and my spirit feels overwhelmed, I know it’s time to take a break with God. To sit quietly in His presence. To sink deep into His Word. To pour out my soul and receive His peace and rest.

7 HABITS #7Too often I ignore my heart’s cries for rest. I push through soul weariness, meeting my obligations, accomplishing necessary tasks. Taking time for a spiritual retreat seems to go against our culture’s value of accomplishment and achievement. Sitting quietly with the Savior doesn’t produce anything I can write on a resume.

But a personal retreat opens my heart to the Father’s care. The Spirit renews my soul. I come away refreshed. I can come back to my real world with its schedules and obligations with renewed strength and peace.

Jesus told His disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). He knew they needed to get away from the crowds, the noise, the responsibilities.

Jesus offers us the same invitation to us, “Come away by yourself. Get away from the busyness, the hurry, the pressing obligations. Spend time in My presence. Rest in my care.”

Jesus says: Come away by yourself. Get away from the busyness. Spend time in My presence and rest in my care. Click To Tweet

You might be wondering: What do you do during a personal spiritual retreat?

Here’s my process. I read God’s Word and journal what I hear God speaking to me. I pour out my struggles, asking God to make sense out of everything. I get out my schedule and to-do list and pray for God to give me His perspective, His priorities. I spend time resting in God’s love for me.

Here are a couple more ideas for your spiritual retreat:

  • Meditate on the Bible story in John 8:1–11. Imagine yourself in the story. Hear the sounds, smell the smells. Look at Jesus. What does your heart experience in meeting Jesus in this story?
  • Dream. Write down your most extravagant dreams for your life. Ask God to show you if they are in line with His will.
  • Create a photo journal. Take a walk in nature and snap photos of things that remind you of God. Later, create a slide show or photo book of the photos with captions of prayers of thanksgiving.

If you would like more ideas like these, sign up to receive my Soul Spa Kit. Just enter your email address and name in the form in the below.

May God bless you as You seek Him and rest in His love.

Next step: Look at your calendar and pick a three-hour block of time (or more) for a spiritual retreat. Pack up your Bible and journal and enjoy an extended time with the Savior.

Enter your email and name in the form below to get the Soul Spa Kit: 59 Ideas For Creating Your Own Spiritual Retreat




7 Habits That Promote Soul Rest: Sabbath

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For years, I struggled with the idea of Sabbath. I knew the commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). But as a pastor’s wife and church musician remembering the Sabbath day meant getting up early, going to church, playing the piano or organ, and rehearsing with the praise team or choir. I loved it all, but it was anything but restful.

Then I began to read about incorporating God’s original idea of the Sabbath as a day of rest into modern life. Truthfully, that seemed impossible. As a wife, mom, piano teacher, and church worker I was already struggling to get everything done. How was I supposed to finish all my tasks if I took a day off?

But God kept tapping me on the shoulder through magazine articles, blog posts, and conversations with friends. Suddenly, everywhere I looked people were talking about the Sabbath.

God was inviting me to rest. 

7 HABITS #5Eventually, I accepted the invitation and began using Sunday afternoons and evenings as my Sabbath. I still need to work as a church musician in the morning, but I use the rest of the day to rest my body, soul, and spirit.

Here are some ways I incorporate rest into my Sabbath:

Rest my body. I ignore the crumbs on the floor and the clothes in the hamper. Instead, I lounge on the couch or take a leisurely walk in God’s creation.

Rest my soul. One the best things I do for my soul on the Sabbath is to take a break from technology. I spend a lot of time on my computer during the week. Shutting down email and Facebook for one day rejuvenates my soul.

Rest my spirit. God’s Word rejuvenates my soul. On Sunday morning I worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ and soak of the Gospel. Later in the day I might read an uplifting devotional book or spend extra time in Scripture. You might even select a book or study to be read only on Sundays–perhaps reading through C.S. Lewis’s works or digging deep into Galatians.

God’s recipe for soul rest is:

Take six days of work.

Add in one day of rest.

God's recipe for soul rest is: Take six days of work. Add in one day of rest. Click To Tweet

Too often I’ve ignored this recipe and the result has been an exhausted, frazzled soul.

Accept God’s invitation to take a break from your usual hectic pace. Rest in His love and grace. Allow Him to renew your soul.

Next step: RSVP with a yes to God’s invitation to rest. Find a day each week to rest your body, soul, and spirit. Make a list of things that rejuvenate your soul and incorporate them into your Sabbath.

If you want to learn more about Sabbath and soul rest check out my book Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal. CPH.org has a special sale price right now!