Today is my sabbath day and that means it is a good day. It comes after an busy fall kickoff to a new academic year, which is a vital part of the rhythm of life in a college town. Every fall new students pour into town, excited to start this new phase of life and formerly “new students” return to pick up where they left off, for good or ill. It’s Gainesville’s version of the church calendar, a secular form of Advent or Lent.
As I’m sitting on the back porch of my house, I am struck again by the importance of these sorts of rhythms that we all have in our lives. We are in the 10 commandments in our Sunday morning sermon series and I have to say, it is one of the richest and most convicting series I have every participated in teaching. Rich in my time of study and preparation. Rich as I sat last week and heard my brother and fellow pastor, Ryan open up the Word and talk about not forsaking the Sabbath. (For anyone reading not a part of Creekside, we have a shared pulpit which means the Sunday morning teaching time is split between the 2 pastors on staff. It is a practice I am becoming increasingly “evangelistic” about, perhaps on my way to “militant”. But that is a subject for another post) The series is convicting because it has become obvious that these 10 commandments that we so easily dismiss are much deeper than we have thought and we break them far more easily that we could have imagined. The study has shown me once again that apart from grace and a new heart, I will only be able to play house when it comes to actually living the sort of life God has called us all to live.
But this morning, as I sit, enjoying a cool Florida fall morning, I am more than anything grateful: grateful for God’s constant faithfulness and mercy that He parades before me every day…
I am grateful for my small group and the way the gospel has been at work in them, like the young woman, recently diagnosed with MS, who is so excited and grateful to be able to reach out and encourage others who are just getting the same bad news she did just a few months ago. her attitude reminds me to be grateful I get to get up in a few minutes and go work in yard, ugly as it is, to join in with Adam in pulling weeds and cutting back the thorns.
I am grateful that I get to end my sabbath today by gathering with our elders and wives and our church staff to celebrate God’s faithfulness, a tremendous groups of folks that serve so faithfully and love the church well. These dear brothers and sister are so good to be with and to have a chance to “celebrate” with them is something I have looked forward to for weeks.
I am grateful for my sweet family, for their bizarre senses of humor and the grace and affection they show me and others. They are such a source of comfort and joy. I am grateful that last week our oldest Calvin came home and the “nest” was full once again with all of the amazing interactions and word play, the kindness and serving each other that went on and the celebrations over another round of birthdays for siblings.
And finally, this morning at least, I am grateful for leftovers. No really. Why you might ask? Because this morning that have reminded me of the power of the gospel to make something wonderful out of brokenness. You see, this morning as I went to the fridge to find something grab to eat, I found a whole lot of nothing. Small baggies and foil wrapped pieces of meals from the past week: a strip of bacon, a random sausage link, pieces of green pepper from a meal preparation I didn’t need, a small bit of cheese, a large bag do cold baked potatoes left over from the newcomer’s lunch and a couple of lonely eggs in a carton whose friends had gone on to meet their maker. And as I looked at it and contemplated either fasting or takeout, I saw that these small broken pieces could come together into something new all together. And so after my own little version of “chopped” this morning, I saw the birth of scrambled cheesy eggs over a 3 meat hash. A whole lot of nothing, of disregarded bits came together to make something really quite remarkable and surprising. I don’t want to offend anyone by the reference, but’s really not unlike church and so many of our lives. God redeems broken and fallible people and by the Gospel makes something quite stunning out of it all.
Which, to come back to the point, is why sabbath is so vital. It’s rest but it’s more. It’s stopping long enough to step back and see what God is doing, really doing when He is at work through the Gospel. It’s soaking in the reality that He is not only sovereign, He is sovereign in your life, That He is not only good, He is good to you and that he not only loves the world, but in Christ he has loved you and that is true every minute of every day. And when we do that, sabbath goes from merely stopping work, a “time out”, to what it was always intended to be, worship.
So why do we avoid “sabbath” and a rest like this? That’s a good question. As for me, I think my other gods get jealous and so they call for me to spend time with them and to ignore this other challenge for my time and affections. And so I’m trying to learn to ignore their pleas and listen instead to a rhythm that goes all the way back to the Garden. And so finally, I am grateful for the Word that has reminded me that that tune even exists.