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Saturday, January 9

What I’m reading today: Hebrews 12

During my vacation at the end of December, I had a great chance to sit down and breathe for a bit. I hadn’t really done that since 2008 since 2009 was a year full of life-changing decisions and moves. As I sat down and caught my breath, it didn’t take me long to realize that during my first four months in my new parish, I was starting to make one of the most serious mistakes that I had made in my first parish: I was not taking my days off (I prefer to call them my Sabbath days).

And guess what?

I was starting to once again feel emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted. Consequently, I made an extremely tough decision for myself heading into the new year: I would learn how to occasionally disappoint people by saying “No” to them so that I could hold on to my Sabbath days.

It took me awhile to work this through. I wish that I had run across today’s passage from Hebrews a few months earlier – for in that passage there is a wonderful section that could have set me straight. “When you find yourself flagging in your faith,” the author began, “go over [Jesus’] story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:2-3 from The Message).

Some would go through Jesus’ story and conclude, “Jesus certainly never took downtime. In fact, didn’t he get in trouble more than once for ‘working on the Sabbath’?”

Well, there are certainly moments when Jesus did heal on the Sabbath and get himself into trouble. There are also lots of other moments when Jesus went away by himself for times of prayer and centering. Personally I wish the Gospel writers would have also thrown in at least one story regarding some fun Jesus had during his time away (a "Hey, Peter, I'm going to Disneyland" moment) - but I digress.

The point being is that I walked away from my recent time of soul-searching with an important realization: like Jesus, I need to take time of rest and renewal. For me as a follower of Jesus doing so is not just a good psychological practice – it’s an essential spiritual discipline for those of us who say we are interested in following him.

So how are you with all of this? Are you like the pre-2010 Craig – always running around and filling every moment with work/service; or are you like the 2010 Craig – willing to take a huge risks and say “No” to folks so that you can hold on to Sabbath moments of rest and renewal when they present themselves?

Til next time…

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