This is probably the most important invitation you will receive this summer.
But first, here are some real quotes from real people. Do you relate to any of them?
“My friendships and family pay dearly for my badly managed, overstuffed schedule.”
“I can’t seem to shut down. There is just too much to do.”
“I was unable to distinguish between my activity and my identity – and so my activity determined my identity.”
“I am over-committed. I’m pulled in more directions than I can go.”
“Busyness became what I was known for.”
“I am paying the price physically. Whenever the holidays come and I take a break from the pace and activity of the ministry, my body falls apart. I get sick way too often, because I’m constantly run down.”
Many pastors and church workers I know are over-scheduled at work, under-scheduled at home, and unscheduled when it comes to nourishing their soul. Then I realized it’s not just pastors.
That’s what led us to come up with what we call Mountain’s “REST policy.” It is based on the idea that God has built certain rhythms into the universe. The work of creation was completed, and though God certainly did not need rest, he established the precedent of Sabbath – a period of celebration, reflection and rest. We see this pattern at work in all of creation from the surge and ebb of the tides, to the fruitful fields followed by fallowness of winter.
Jesus seemed to have this rhythm alive inside of him. His live pulsed to this rhythm – engagement and disengagement; noise and quiet; people and solitude; speaking and silence; work and rest.
It is this same rhythm into which God repeatedly invites us.
And yet modern living pushes hard on us to ignore and eradicate these God-ordered rhythms.
People used to go to bed at night. It was dark. It was costly to burn the midnight oil. The sun was coming up early the next day and work would begin. Rest was built into the rhythm of life.
Today, we constantly burn our bulbs on high wattage. Wal-Mart is open 24-hours a day, just in case you need to stop by and pick up a few things at 3 AM. We work nights and weekends. Soccer tournaments commence during the once-sacred Sunday morning hours. Restaurant and hospital workers (and many others) report for duty on Christmas Eve and countless other days previously set aside for a break from the routine.
The word “holiday” comes from the idea of “holy day.” They were sacred times, different from the norm, set aside for worship and reflection and living the other side of the rhythm. But holidays degenerated from “holy days” to “off days.” Now they are neither.
The modern world is flat, without texture, music with no rhythm. Life is one day rolling into the next in an endless staccato, the only musical variation offered by the occasional celebrity gossip from TMZ or ubiquitous mega-sporting event which now offers periodic punctuation to our calendars.
And yet it’s summer, and the changing weather pattern forces us to take notice. Something has changed! The return of warmer air, the greening of the earth, and all the other symbols and celebrations of summer are a remnant of rhythm. It’s a reminder that indeed, a pattern is hard wired into the universe.
Listen deeply with your soul to what happens when you feel summer. It’s an invitation back into the rhythm of God.
Summer is a good time to do some soul work. A time to think about the pace you keep, the steps you make, the life you are living. Think about the rhythms God intends. They are life-giving.
It’s true that amidst the beat and drone all around us, the rare individual moving to God’s rhythms looks out of step.
But we ignore these rhythms at our own peril.
Following Jesus often means you will march to a different drummer. But you have to listen carefully to hear the rhythm anymore. And then step in time, even if others think you’re out of step.
When I listen, I hear Jesus saying, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. …. Let me teach you…and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29
Ready to march to a different drummer? Here is a path toward the rest of Jesus, an invitation to summer soul work: