Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
In some of the internet circles I pay attention to, it is common to start off a new year by choosing a word instead of perhaps making a list of lofty resolutions or goals. It seems much simpler to me and easier to come back to, so I usually try to participate.
As I thought about the last few months of 2019 and continued to live through the last few days transitioning into the new year, I couldn’t help but feel pretty drained. The heaviness from what felt like attack after attack to what I had been trying to do with Pinked Perspective throughout the year had caught up with me. I was putting in more hours on Pinked than ever before at the expense of my attention and focus on The Lord and my family. Many days my mind was torn between knowing if the next right thing was to keep the ministry of Pinked going or throw in the towel. I guess you could say, my head and my hands were just tired. And in dependence on my own strength, my soul was slowly wearing out too.
Around this time I had also become engrossed in a book entitled The Tech-Wise Family. Many of the snares of 2019 for me had been related to technology. I had also started to feel a burden for the future of our kids because of the paths that technology is allowing many of our youth to follow. In an effort to spend more time as a family and practice using technology for good as Crouch encourages, we decided to start watching the series The Chosen as a family. Between the pages of chapter three of The Tech-Wise Family and the second episode of The Chosen, I started to realize that The Lord was giving me not only a word but a calling for 2020. That word was “Shabbat”.
I am certainly no expert on Jewish customs and law (but am so eager to learn more), but when I heard that word, I knew it echoed the same idea that author, Andy Crouch was referring to in taking a Sabbath from technology to find rest and focus. Shabbat refers to the period of time starting a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday evening (their seventh day of the week) during which Jewish people are meant to celebrate freedom from any type of work. The purpose of Shabbat, or their sabbath, is to re-focus on God in prayer.
I am certainly no prophet either, but I can’t help but feel that this nudge toward rest to start out the year was in fact preparation for what was to come with our current state that is the Coronavirus pandemic. For many, it has slowed the pace, it has weeded out, it has turned our eyes back. I know and appreciate that there are also many who find rest even harder to come by as they tirelessly work to care for the sick, find a cure, and make important decisions that affect us all. And yes, even within our family there are still days filled with work, mostly surrounding our efforts to continue educating our kids at home. But there is no denying that this quarantine has silenced much of the noise that was so easily distracting and quite frankly, draining my soul.
If we allow it, the noise of this time could take on the form of news media giving way to anxious thoughts. But as a family, we are choosing to try to tune into the encouragement and hope of many prolific preachers and teachers of The Word sharing their messages online. One of our favorite teachers to hear from in this season has been Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta, GA. Lately, Blake and I are finding ourselves taking walks while listening to such messages through the speaker of one of our phones. As we tuned in yesterday to Pastor Louie’s latest sermon, it was as if the scales fell from my eyes and many of the scattered pieces of this quarantine fell beautifully into place for me. (This is the adventure it is to be in relationship with The Lord!)
Pastor Louie compares this time of COVID-19 to the the “2nd day”, the day between Good Friday and Easter morning. This 2nd day also just happened to be…you guessed it- Shabbat! Although it seems like God is no where to be found, He IS with us (Immanuel) and He IS working. At the start of the new year when He put my need for a Sabbath on my heart, I could have never conceived of the forced Shabbat that was coming. A forced Shabbat that after several failed attempts in January and February would teach me what a Sabbath really looks and how desperately needed it was.
I share this sermon link below as it is so rich in HOPE for this season of quarantine, as well as in TRUTH for preparing our hearts for this passion week ahead.