Wednesday, February 27, 2013

in the middle of respite


sunrise at the lake house

"Repent and return... so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."
Acts 3:19
 
A few years ago, my sweet friend Malissa invited me on a girls weekend trip to a secluded lake house.  Wounded and weary from the trials of life, I was reluctant to go.  I didn't know anyone else on the trip and was doubtful that I had the energy to expend getting to know anyone else.  It ended up being one of the best weekends of my life.  Any pretense was left at the doorstep.  There were no scheduled activities, no agendas, nothing.  Just peace.  And rest.  And respite.

Over the course of that weekend, my weary soul find the rest it so desperately needed in the presence of the Lord.  It was there, in the midst of seclusion and solitude, that we sat and sipped cocoa in front of the fireplace, swapped stories on the porch and shared life down by the water.  We prayed with each other and for each other and formed an indelible bond of faith.      

True to the verse in Acts, each year, we repent from the busyness of our every day lives and we return... expectant for times of refreshing to come from His presence.  

This weekend, I am returning to my place of rest and respite.  What began as a reluctant one-time trip has become an eagerly anticipated retreat that each of us look forward to all year long.  Those of us who go on this trip rarely, if ever, see one another throughout the year, but when we gather together in this place that has become so special to us, it is as though no time has passed at all. 

I am privileged to have such a special place and these special friends in my life, but here's the thing: the refreshing, the respite and the rest... we are all privileged to have access to it, through Christ.  

Jesus says to us, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Rest: (ἀναπαύσω) - Originally to make to cease; ease; refresh. The radical conception is that of relief. (Vincent's Word Studies)

I love that.  Cease.  Ease.  Refresh.  

These three truly define this weekend for me - and any period of true respite:

1) Cease:  I turn off my phone and shut down my social media access.  No Facebook.  No texting.  No nothing.  I completely disconnect from the outside world.  Yes, there is an alternate land line in case of emergencies, but whatever is happening on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Instagram can wait.   
 
2)  Ease: This one isn't quite so immediate.  It takes a while to transition into ease; into allowing yourself to rest fully without worry; to allow your mind to slow to the pace of your reality and for those few moments, to truly, wholly rest in the moment.  Then, you begin to glimpse the beauty of how we are supposed to live:  "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27).

3)  Refreshing: This is the benefit of finding rest in Him, and in Him alone.  He is both our refuge and our respite, and the One who refreshes our souls.  This is a glimpse of what He intended our Sabbath to  be.  A time of rest and a time of refreshing.  
 
Whatever you're in the middle of, can I encourage you today to seek your own respite this weekend, too?  Even if for a few moments, to repent from the busyness and activity of life and return to the Lord's presence, so that a time of refreshing may fall afresh on you.  



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