It’s Vital. Are You Resting?

Schedules stopped. Travel derailed. Businesses halted. Visits postponed. For many, this season of “stay-at-home” has turned our routines upside down and sideways. Dads usually away are present—now for weeks—around the house. Students at school have become students in school from home. Many moms who would normally scurry to work or the regular routines errands out and about to care for their homes are landlocked.

Certainly, these freezes of schedule aren’t true for everyone. Many essential workers are making the country go, keeping the rest of us well, or seeing the stores are stocked. Many are working harder than ever and need our prayers and encouragement.

What is true for all of us though, is life as we knew it changed a few weeks ago. Life stopped so much so that sports organizations walked away from collective billions to social distance. Governmental leaders closed all types of businesses. Limits have been placed on the number of people who can gather in one place.

All these changes have had an interesting effect on my social media feeds. I’ve seen post after post of hikes through the woods or card games at the table or projects around the house. Families are together more than ever before.

Here’s a question I’m pondering and striving to answer personally, “Did it really take a virus to make us slow down?” What I do know is that time with my family these past few weeks (and the next few) are a gift. What I do know is that God designed us to work and to rest. What I do know is this season is inviting—actually imploring—many of us to rest.

2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis‬ ‭2:2-3 ESV)

8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. ‭‭(Exodus‬ ‭20:8-10‬ ESV‬)

Biblical rest (or Sabbath) has a variety of interpretations, and we don’t have space to address them all here. But we can draw a few practical implications from the Sabbath command to cease from our work that speak to right where we are now.

First, when we rest, we honor God by acknowledging His rest after creation. Rest is an act of worship when we chose it recognizing God’s rest. We can intentionally chose in portions of this season to “rest” worshipfully. In a walk around the neighborhood or on an open trail, take in the beauty of God’s creation and praise Him for it. Or write a prayer of gratitude for His ease on your schedule.

Second, when we rest, we recognize our limitations. God didn’t design us to burn the candle at both ends indefinitely. The Sabbath command reminded Israel that their bodies weren’t designed to go and go and go. Intentional rest honors our bodies as God’s gifts to us and cares for them with a healthy perspective on our abilities and limitations.

Third, when we rest, we refuse to make money or time a god. One of the reasons for the American pace of life is a chasing after money and success. Many in our nation act as if Wall Street never sleeps. And in doing so, they’ve traded worship of God for worship of the financial security or power or prestige that money can give. However, those are mere illusions. The halt to so many economic sectors in our nation and worldwide has unsettled many, and reminded us all that financial security is fleeting. When we rest from our work intentionally, giving away dollars to make, deals to secure, or connections that would benefit our bottom line, we realign our allegiance Godward affirming His place above our things.

Fourth, when we rest, we slow down to see one another rightly. Husband, do you know how hard your wife works to keep the house in order while you are at work? Child, do you see the effort your teachers are putting in to make school work as well as possible? Wife, do you recognize how diligently your husband longs to provide for your family well-being? Parent, do recognize the strengths (and limitations) of your student because you are watching them do school from home? Family, are you noticing the needs, expectations, and longings of one another because you actually have the chance to do so? Church member, do you see how important relationships are with one another when they are broken away?

This season is a gift to many. The change up in routine invites us to pause, reflect, rest. It’s vital. Are you resting?

Read more in this series:

It’s Quiet. Are You Listening?

It’s Unsettled. Are You Praying?

It’s Desperate. Are You Seeking?

It’s Important. Are You Connecting?

It’s Opportune. Are You Giving?

It’s Opportune. Are You Giving?

Every spectrum of life and work has been affected by this virus. Our economy has been turned upside down. The U.S. government has taken unprecedented steps to stem the impact on our economy. Blue collar, white collar, unemployed, and retired collectively hold their breath with a “wait and see” on the long term impact on job security, flow of income, or retirement.

It would be easy, even justified, for many of us to pause our giving in a season like this. But I do not believe that’s what God would have of us. Many of our normal channels for “giving” of ourselves have changed. Generosity and stewardship also include how we give our time and energy to others. In a season of “stay-at-home,” those types of ministries must be relegated to the phone or computer.

As I write this, I’m grateful for a church body that faithfully gives—and gives generously. We saw a record offering to Lottie Moon this past Christmas season. We exceeded budgeted giving last calendar year. We quickly and joyfully give to mission needs put before us. I’m also grateful for our church leadership and staff that wisely steward our resources. They’ve helped us prepare for this “rainy day” and will continue to guide us through this season to its end.

I share this with you just to bring before all of us what I believe God would invite us to prayerfully consider. He longs for us to sow generously.

6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6-7‬ ESV‬‬)

I read this quote the other day, and it’s stayed with me, “Generosity flourishes when we don’t fear loss.” The truth is, many have already experienced (or may experience) “loss” financially from this season. The question for us is, “Do we fear that loss?”

If I’m honest, I’m tempted to fear that loss. I’m tempted to do more than just wisely save and steward. Fear of loss would tempt me to hold resources with a vice grip or hoard them for my own selfish benefit alone. God knows this temptation with me so He frequently pricks this part of my life and asks for me to let go of more. My wife and I evaluated and reset our finances beginning this past January. As a result, we have saved more of our monthly resources this year. As soon as we saw our monthly savings, God nudged us to increase our regular giving. Then, once this pandemic began, He nudged again. I can say with joy, we are giving more and eager to see what God will do.

I am answering the question, “Do I fear loss?” I encourage you to answer it too. The answer to that question will reveal if our trust and confidence resides in our bank account, our 401k, our job security, or our retirement disbursements. The answer to that question will reveal if we truly believe that our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and the hills to boot (Psalm 50:10). It will reveal if we trust in the “riches of His glory” to care for us and sustain us (Ephesians 3:16).

If you’ve hesitated to mail in your tithe or give through your church’s online platform, I encourage you to take that step. If God has nudged you to give more, listen to Him. If He has placed on your heart a ministry or a person or a church or a missionary or a neighbor in need, listen to His direction and give. Maybe you are reading this, and you’ve fallen out of the habit of giving regularly. God may be saying to you right now, “Give and watch me provide for you and demonstrate my faithfulness to you. Trust me with your money.”

Don’t fear loss. Give. Trust God with your today. And your tomorrow. He’s got you.

*For my PGBC Family, you can click here to give through our online platform. Our family set up our giving as recurring. We’ve found it to be the simplest route to giving obediently.

Read more in this series:

It’s Quiet. Are You Listening?

It’s Unsettled. Are You Praying?

It’s Desperate. Are You Seeking?

It’s Important. Are You Connecting?

It’s Important. Are You Connecting?

“Stay-at-home” in our area has had a revolutionary impact in only a few days. We live in the same neighborhood as one of our church members. He’s walked past my house a few times, and each time this week, I happened to be on the phone. Apparently, my front porch has become my “new office” as he put it.

It’s not just the front porch we’ve rediscovered. It’s the back yard and brush needing to be cleaned up. It’s sorting and organizing the garage. It’s kitchen cabinets in need of some tlc. These chores that are sometimes hard to get around to because of scurrying schedules have reminded me that we can easily put them off until later. Sometimes though, we realize we’ve put them off too long.

The lessons in these chores against the backdrop of the “stay-at-home” order has also revealed an even more important truth. We’ve got to connect with our family intentionally. The past few weeks have been marked by a number of reengagements with my wife and son. Card games. Board games. Movies. Walks together. Cuddles. Fishing. Laughter. Joy.

Our closeness has also exposed some of our buttons we sometimes push (or get pushed). Our presence with each other almost constantly means we get each other’s best moments and prickly moments. Marriage and parenting always have their challenges, but when you mix in A LOT more time with each other along with the uneasiness and anxieties this season has birthed, it’s a recipe for some interesting “moments.”

While I’m sure Peter didn’t have my home in the midst of this virus outbreak in mind, his words have been sweet balm and a helpful corrective:

8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ESV‬‬)

Those words must start with our family. The truth is, I desperately need my family. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for them. Many are cut off from grandchildren or children or even spouses because of all the social distancing restrictions or certain careers that force separation. On an even more serious note, some are cut off from loved ones because they are sick. Close hospitality cannot be accomplished right now with many, which makes it all the more important that we get those expectations right with those under our roof.

Those words also press the importance of the “now.” Peter says, “Keep loving one another earnestly.” Earnestly pleads for a zealous effort. A press upon the immediate. In this season where our peace of mind about our health is so fragile, we better be loving those we are living with “earnestly.”We are well right now. I’m going to praise Jesus for that gift! I’m also going to try to live with my wife and son in such a way I don’t take it for granted.

Furthermore, he gives instruction for those interesting “moments.” Love covers our sins and an earnest love helps us ward off grumbling. My guess is, your home has had its share of tensions, complaints, or outbursts. In Jesus, we’ve been given the power of God in us to teach us to bite our tongues, extend generous grace, and reset our emotions before we pop off in unfair or unkind ways at those we love the most.

While you may not be able to be with all those you would like to connect with, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay in touch. Make a call. Send a text. FaceTime with a friend. Zoom with your Bible study group. Send an email, or go really old school by writing a letter. Check on a neighbor. And while you do, be sure not to miss those right in front of you.

You see, I’m I’m bound to my family. I’m one flesh with Diana. Joseph is our child. We are linked at the hip. We are in each other’s personal space. We are close. Extremely close. I’ve got to be connected to them.

So, are you connecting? It’s important. Especially right now.