School is coming…For some it is already here…For some parents it is a great day, for some parents their will be tears . For some kids it is a struggle filled with anxiety and for some kids they just cant wait to be back at school with their friends. It is a mix of anxiety, joy, fear, and excitement for a new year.
One things we will all experience this year is the busyness that comes with a new school year. It seems to me that every year, sports gets more intense, classes get harder for kids, the schedule for ministry even seems to get more and more intense. All these things may be amazing opportunities for learning, exercise, friendships, and fun. These things can make it almost impossible to have opportunities to share a meal, share your day, or just find times to be home and slowing down together with your family.
Somewhere as a family we all learned that to be the best parents we have to run, run, run. We have to be in everything, be there for everyone, and give our kids the most experiences possible. I am here to tell you we are all wrong on this front. Yes experiences for our kids are great. It is important to give them times to succeed, and fail, to find joy, and sadness so we can help them navigate those moments before they become adults. The thing I think we miss is how can we also teach them to rest. How do we teach them to slow down enjoy life with the people God has put in our lives.
This fall our Church is starting something new. We are calling it Family rest nights. The second and forth Wednesdays of each month during the school year we have opened the school and Church schedule so that no events happen in the building after 4pm. We want to model for families to be home and with each other gathered around His word. I love food so for us it will include a meal. We plan to send out emails with devotional questions, scripture readings, and prayers for the family. The goal is to help model family times of rest. My prayers is this will help families slow down and be. Slow down and be in the presence of each other and Jesus. I know I need to have those times of rest. Join us in resting in Jesus and growing together as a family.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42 NIV)
I have Mondays off. It is the one day a week I get to have off and I try to guard it like crazy. Well mostly that is true. Honestly my wife is the one who guards it best because she knows if I didn’t get my rest I will be cranky and out of control.
When I was in High school I spent three weeks of my summer in Puerto Rico for a mission trip. I spent that amazing time getting to know some of the people there and would love to go back just to experience that place again. They taught me a whole host of things but the thing I remember taking away from my time with them was how important rest was to their culture. You see every day they had a siesta. It was a time when the whole country shut down for the most part and people were expected to rest. I remember being told by one of the people there that we Americans didn’t enjoy life because we didn’t rest enough. We ran from thing to thing never enjoying the times God gave us to rest.
My life seems to moving faster and faster. I feel more tired and enjoy my life in Christ less and less. My kids feel it too. I am afraid we as a family are too busy with life to enjoy our time in rest in Jesus. We as the family of God need to slow down and rest. We need to spend time in resting in Jesus.
So how are you resting? Are you resting? I know I am not resting nearly long enough. I am running too fast and ultimately teaching my kids to run to fast. Let us all find those times to slow down and rest. Let us teach our kids to rest. The laundry will be there tomorrow, the school work will be there tomorrow, the office work will be there tomorrow. Let us rest in Jesus. Let us teach our kids to rest in Jesus. To focus our time on rest.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
I like to tell funny stories. I also have been known to embellish a story or two in order to get a good laugh. This one may be slightly embellished but this is how I remember it. I call it my candle story. When I was going through my DCE (Youth Ministry for my non Lutheran friends) Colloquy program we had a professor talk to us about taking time in our lives for prayer. He was talking about levels or prayer..(By that way I am not even sure what that means) But I do remember the 4th level. It was something about lighting a candle getting comfortable and praying to God through breathing. He talked about how you could get to this great place of rest with God. So being the smart aleck I am I raised my hand and said “So what you are saying is, if I want to take a nap at work, I should light a candle first and tell them I am praying!” He quickly told me I was wrong but the damage was done because I was too far gone in my own humor to really hear what he was saying.
So this last month has been tiring. So tiring in fact I have been exhausted and wanting to put my head down and take a nap. In fact I have been reminded of that story more than once this past couple of weeks, and put it to good use…No I haven’t slept in my office, but I have been trying to be more deliberate about resting in Jesus lately. I have tried something to get some rest. I have been making it a point to go home each day for lunch and while I am home I pray while laying down. I set an alarm so I don’t sleep the day away. I am often refreshed after my time with Jesus in prayer and nap. So my question for you is are you resting?
Jesus came not to make us busy, exhausted and tired. He didn’t come so we could be tired and worn down all the time. He didn’t come so I could work through lunch, and run, run, run all the time. He came to bring us rest in him. As you follow Jesus this week I pray you rest in his arms. If you need to, light a candle.
Matthew 11:27-29 English Standard Version (ESV)
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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.