“In the summer, we spend a lot of time down at the shore.” I heard this just yesterday. In our new home here with you in Elkton, everyone lives within easy distance of water. And boats. Boardwalks. Beaches. It’s summer time, the time for vacations—and thinking about vacations. Have you thought about the word itself? Vacation, vacate the premises, get out, get away. Along with vacation, another word that may be making a welcome sound in your soul about now is “retreat.” It’s a military word—retreating back, away from fighting the battle. If you’ve been engaged in an intense work situation, the promise of vacation might feel like that: “Retreat!!”
Then of course there is the word “rest.” Probably deep down most of us are longing for real, soul-satisfying rest. Scripture says God rested on the seventh day, the sabbath. And then God asked his people to put sabbath rest into the structures and rhythms of their week-in, week-out lives. What a command! Obviously a command from a loving God, who knows what we really need deep down, knows how we’re really put together. Makes sense, because he’s the one who put us together, he’s our creator….
God’s idea for time set aside for sabbath rest was about physical and emotional rest, yes it was, but physical and emotional rest as the entry way into something much more satisfying. Physical and emotional rest is the sometimes grassy, up and down series of dunes on the way to the beach itself—where we can encounter an ocean of God.
Yes, I know. Deeper, soul-satisfying rest doesn’t happen that easily. It usually takes us a while, doesn’t it, to quiet down in our souls enough to feel and know again that God is God. Might never happen for someone who keeps their smart phone on in the cottage, on the beach, at the restaurant, everywhere—with email and text and twitter and instagram and facebook all chattering….
I feel sure that one thing that God wants for you in your vacation is at least a little time in which you are able to rest—from all mental work. You can try this anywhere. You don’t need a beach, all you need is some time and some quiet. Let the mental chatter slowly die down. Be still mentally for five minutes. Find yourself there, by waters quieter than those at the beach, find yourself beside the still waters. The still waters of no thoughts about what you should be doing. The still waters of no thoughts about whom you should be helping. The still waters of no thoughts about whether you are measuring up. I pray for you the experience of following your Lord beside the still waters of simply being in his grace. Just be still and accept his love. Just be still and receiving the gift of life, one breath at a time. Just be there and let the Lord restore your soul.