24 April 2018

God blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy; four ladies' retreat at Eldoret

Carol, Margaret, Deb, and Linet at Kerio View Hotel (Iten)

We might see keeping the Sabbath as something we should aim for, but end up still falling far short of the discipline. We allow ‘real life’ to get in the way and we make excuses.

We rank God’s commands, accepting some but ignoring others. Breaking the Sabbath and committing adultery are in the same list of ten commandments in Exodus 20. In fact, practicing the Sabbath gets the most attention. But we tend to read the list with our own lens and not God’s perspective.

When asked how we’re doing, we often respond with, “Oh, I’m so busy. I’m tired. I’ve been exhausted lately.” We seem to think that being ‘busy’ gives us worth, importance, an identity. We often wear our busyness as a badge of honor. The great socially accepted sin of our age is to be overworked. We fill up our lives much more than our capacity. Our pursuit of stuff and activities is relentless and frantic.

Not practicing a rest day is the great unspoken sin among Christians.

God blessed the seventh day and made it holy (Genesis 2:3). God blessed this day so it would be fruitful, or life-giving. When God blessed this day, it was a gift from God to his people. We need God’s blessing in our lives. We need rest and recharging to nourish our souls.

Sabbath is a day to appreciate what we already have and to rest in the goodness God has given us. It’s a day to worship and a day to rest, to cease from our labor. If ‘doing things’, ‘accomplishing ambition’, and ‘acquiring stuff’ are my top goals in life, I’ll never enjoy Sabbath rest.
[excerpts from Chris Arnold's sermon, Karen Vineyard Church, January 2018]

Enjoying an afternoon out at Kerio View Hotel, with a beautiful view of the Great Rift Valley and a nice meal

Recently my three good friends and I intentionally stopped our normal day-to-day activities for the sole purpose of entering into God's presence. We rented a guesthouse in Eldoret for a 3-day retreat, using meditative exercises to soak in God's Word. By using various activities - such as Lectio Divina, Imaginative Contemplation, Visio Divina, and Examen - we experienced the divine in a unique and powerful way.

We did an exercise with modeling clay, using Isaiah 64:8 and Jeremiah 18:1-6, about the potter and the clay - - a real practical way to engage with scripture.

I created a playlist of meditative music that we used at certain times. Because everyone especially connected with "Breathe", by John Michael Talbot. we listened to it several times as we focused on our breathing. [See video below.]

I created a workbook and a few other materials for each of us to use as guides in our journey. I also bought four nice, feminine handkerchief for those inevitable teary-eyed moments.

On one of the days, we had an intimate and simple communion service. And at various times throughout the retreat, we had some really good, in-depth discussions.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. 
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 
Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. 
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. 
Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)

What about you? 
When is the last time you got away from the noise of the world, distractions, obligations, and your to-do list... simply to sit in the presence of the living God? I encourage you to set a date on your calendar to practice the Sabbath, one of the commands we've been given. I guarantee you won't regret it and you'll wonder why you waited so long to do so.

- - - - - -

Our intention is to set our gaze on God, to set our heart and mind on him.
We are here to rest, rest in Jesus.
If you are tired, just tell him. 

He’s listening.
Whisper a prayer to your Lord just now.
His yoke is easy and light, perfectly fitted for you.

Let go and take a deep breath. 
We need to find our balance again.
We want to let go of our frustrations and weariness.

Let this be a space of letting go.
Can you loosen your grip on things?
Can you let God be fully in control?

What are you holding onto that doesn’t serve God or serve others?
Are you clenching your fists holding onto things? 
Are you digging your nails into your palms?

Let those things go and let him be everything to you.
Open your hands to receive from him. 
Be expectant.

Let this be a space of receiving from him.
Let these two days be a time of being still.
Be still and let him talk to you.


Gloria Sauck said...

Thanks for this.

Anonymous said...

Deb, I listened to the Breathe song and pondered. I really enjoyed seeing it all, and wanted to tell you that. Thanks for including the clip of the Karura forest waterfall, a place I have sat many times and a good way to "still" myself.

I too have been learning lots about Sabbath over the past year and more actively trying to practise it both alone and with the family. I will write some of those quotes out and put them somewhere visible. I've recently read Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller and now follow her Sabbath Society blog. I love what you did with and for those three ladies with the retreat, that is blessed indeed, and a rich sowing into their lives and futures.

I continue to live the Kenya in my heart vicariously through your eyes! May the Lord bless you with His rest, His peace and His divine protection over your coming in and your going out.

Love, Jo xx