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The Rhythms of Peaceful Rest

Recently, a friend and I visited a preserve in Crystal Rivers, FL, an area that protects local manatees that migrate to the warm springs there in the winter. I was intrigued by the slow-paced movement of these large creatures. While resting, manatees can be submerged for up to 15 minutes before they need to resurface for air. When they are in a deep restful state, they slowly rise for another breath, and then unhurriedly return to their previous position – all while still sleeping!

The leisurely movements of the manatees are evidence of their peaceful existence in these protected waters. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could rest like a manatee? I think we can, spiritual speaking, if we look to Jesus as our provider of rest and peace.  As our Good Shepherd, He lavishes us with green meadows and peaceful streams – a metaphor that describes the rest and safety we experience even as we endure the momentary troubles of this world. 

Living in the west, we tend to be preoccupied with many things. Some of these are very good and Kingdom-focused.  But they all take time.  Even well-intentioned investments of time can come at a cost of forfeiting what’s best – a personal alone time with God. It’s necessary (and healthy) to set boundaries so we avoid getting sucked into the demands of our work and other personal commitments. Even Jesus prioritized His time so He could be alone with the Father.  

One way to prioritize our time is through a regular Sabbath rhythm. This idea of Sabbath rest originated with God as He observed a day of rest after His week of creation work. As we create in our own work, we can imitate God’s pattern of rest. Setting aside a Sabbath day gives us permission to shut down from all the worldly distractions including our work, to turn our attention to a peaceful rest in Jesus – a slow-moving pace where we intentionally migrate into His safe arms. We shift from our busyness to enjoy a time of worship, a leisurely walk in the park or an uplifting visit with a friend. If you’re not already practicing the rhythm of a Sabbath rest, I encourage you to give it a try. You might just find it will change your life as you learn to trust Jesus as your resting place.

-Deneen McDonald (Spiritual Director COBI)

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