Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rest for the Soul...

I’ve just come off of a weeklong sabbatical, and might I say it was HEAVENLY! I completely unplugged from humanity, as we know it…well almost completely. I uninstalled twitter and facebook from my cell phone and I committed not to check it online, which utterly defies my natural habit (addiction rather) to social media.

The first couple days were hard. Every time a moment of stillness or silence presented itself, I reached for my computer to read the daily status updates. And each time I did, I paused just shy of lifting open the screen of my laptop, reminding myself that I’m on a purposeful break. It’s crazy how we sometimes don’t realize our own tendencies until we try to stop the cycle of routine… but that could be a whole other blog entry.

Anyway, The original point of my sabbatical was simply to rest, (“Duh,” you might say, “That’s what a sabbatical is!” But read on, you’ll see how my concept morphed through the week) I was exhausted! The week prior to my break I actually took a three-hour long nap one day and still felt like I hadn’t slept a wink. It was mind boggling to me. So my body and I agreed on a much need time of retreat.

Of course in my head I set out to do so much during this so-called vacation. I was going to read all the books I hadn’t gotten around to, marking each one off of my To Do list, go through old boxes, clean out the guest closet, reorganize the bathroom cabinets, iron the clean laundry, you know… everything “restful”. But every time I thought about the tasks at hand my body refused to comply. So instead I slept in, stayed in my P.J.’s all day, watched a few episodes of my fave show, spent time with the dog and did some much “needed” window-shopping online. Yes, I know, doesn’t it sound divine? ... Well, like many things that seem to good to be true, there was a catch. With each passing hour that I allowed myself to relax, more and more guilt settled onto my shoulders.

I asked myself, “Why in the world do I (and most of America for that matter) feel the need to constantly be doing?” I sat in that question as I pondered the significance of it in my life. And of course when my husband walked in the door from work, I, knowing the laundry wasn’t finished, was convinced that he viewed me as an incompetent wife, even though he gave me his blessing to embark on this time of rest.

When I couldn’t stand the condemnation any longer I tearfully spilled my heart as we sat on the couch. My precious husband graciously reminded me that he was totally okay with my time of Sabbath and that I had conjured up all those negative ideas of condemnation in my own mind. The truth is, he explained, his love for me is not based on what I do for him. He simply loves me for me.

And then it hit me. I have believed a lie.

After three years of marriage I realized that I had adopted an idea that my hubby loves me for what I do, not who I am. Now keep in mind, if you had asked me straight up, two weeks ago if I believed that lie I'm confidant I would have said no. But the Spirit of God has a sweet way of powerfully revealing to us the status of our own heart and taking us on a tour of the deepest caverns hidden in darkness. And like a light bulb illuminating a dark, cold room, I realized I was in bondage to that lie, falsely believing I had to perform to gain acceptance.

Beyond the implications of lessons in marriage, an even more profound truth was uncovered for me this week. My personal equation of PERFORMANCE= LOVE+ACCEPTANCE, is not just an idea I applied to marriage. This falsehood has been active in my relationship with Christ as well. You see marriage is a reflection of Christ and the church. Often times when examining our marriage we can find hidden truths about our relationship with our Savior.

I see clearly now that the concept of performance based love did not come from my husband. It’s rooted in something else entirely. Ultimately I know that Satan is the father of lies and he is the master deceiver, constantly attacking in the battlefield of the mind using mediums like nay saying friends, ideas instilled in us from childhood, intrusive thoughts, or even the media!

So often we listen to the world that screams, “What you do defines who you are!” The successful businessman is commonly viewed as more significant or powerful than the stay at home mom etc. So we strive and strain to achieve the mirage of success according to the worlds eyes. We determine to be the best at whatever we put our mind to: business,  sports, academics, marriage, parenting, even religion... or shall I say for many of us, especially religion. The list goes on. But this week the Lord spoke clearly. It’s no coincidence that one of my dear friends emailed me a devotional from Jesus Calling just before I started my break. In it, one line stood out above the rest…

“Save your best striving for seeking my face.”

Wow. What a simple yet life giving task… seeking His face. Striving and straining for everything else leads us to, well, pretty much where I was the day before my Sabbath, or the night my husband encountered an erupting volcano of emotions on the couch (I'm sure wives across the globe can relate). 

I guess this week God began to show me that I do not have to build for myself a healthy resume of good deeds according to religious standards or eliminate the room for stumbling and hiccups. I don’t have to feel guilty about not being at church every single time the doors are open, even though I’m a pastor’s wife and I don’t have to add to the list of things I believe are my job description just because I’m a Christian. The Bottom line is, I just need to seek Him. That’s my job. The rest He will reveal. And He will give me the strength to walk in what he reveals as I obediently and willfully seek Him. Wow. Now that seems restful… soaking in His presence, talking to him on a walk or while I do the dishes, resting in Him as He leads me  every step of the way. Thank you Jesus for lessons in Sabbath!

Now, coming back to the marriage analogy, I do realize that when I do the dishes, the laundry, cook dinner and serve my husband it blesses his socks off. And so it is with serving God in the deeds He has called us to. When we obey, He is blessed and pleased, so of course I will continue to walk out my faith with action. But, the lesson here is that His love is not contingent upon our deeds--and what a FREEDOM this truth has brought me! WOW. I feel like a big hefty weight has been lifted. :)

(Dear God, please bring your divine rest to all who read this blog. Please reveal to them how long and wide and high and deep is your unconditional love for them.)

Whole heartedly,

Monique Zackery

P.S. Wanna start a Sabbath of your own, filled with seeking God's heart? Here are a few references that might help you get started... Be blessed and find rest!  :) 

Romans 5:8
Ephesians 3:16-19
Romans 8:34-39

Galatians 2:16
Ephesians 2:8-10

Matthew 11:28-30
John 14:27
Isaiah 26:3-4 
Psalm 91:1

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." - Proverbs 16:24