Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27
Although I spent the last five months trying to learn rest and bring joy, it was not until this Advent that God helped me see the way.
I flew to Philadelphia last week. On the way, God blessed me with a stand by flight that got me into Philadelphia 3 hours earlier than scheduled. On that flight I sat next to someone very high in the administration of The University of Pennsylvania Law School. We spoke briefly prior to take-off and I found out that 98.6% of its graduates get employed. But, for the nearly three hours following God called me to observe. I heard Him saying, “look Chris, really take notice Chris.”
What I observed was a constant busyness. I watched the wound up person next to me frantically type emails and documents. I watched the tornado she created when going through her carry-on bag. I watched the 0 – 60 mph acceleration with which she moved her laptop, shut the tray-table and sprinted to the bathroom (several times). I felt the unrest as she kept shaking her foot. All of this, for three hours, until it was time to prepare the cabin for descent. At this, the laptop got stored for good, same with the tray-table. AH, finally, a moment of rest. But, then came the iPhone6, and with it a brightly colored screen launching bubbles.
My first thoughts were “our world does not know how to rest. Even in this attempt to rest, our world turns to keeping the mind busy.” Then, I remembered God invited me to watch, not to judge. I sat in a shower of conviction. I too am guilty of this. Big deal if I claim to practice a Sabbath with Megan. On our Sabbath I am on twitter, sometimes even Facebook. My rest is still a constant state of consumption.
I believe it is this consumption that has left me unrested and thus, unmotivated to take on all of my duties as a first-year husband.
God did not stop there, He continued to help me understand the connections between rest, trust, and peace!
On the way back to Portland from Philadelphia I was reading a friend’s book “Gardening Eden” and Jewish teachings on the environment. Apparently, environmental justice is a core value of God discussed by many Sages’ throughout history. The discussion elaborated on the re-balancing of power and economics in society through the Sabbatical Year (Exodus 23: 11, Leviticus 25: 2-5, and Deuteronomy 15: 1-4) and the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25: 8-24) as a foundation for environmental justice. Here I am, attempting to practice a Sabbath year in order to bring joy to my bride and wouldn’t you know the Lord decided to speak directly to where I am falling short.
When I went directly into the Text I found a very important, but overlooked statement at the end of the passage on the year of Jubilee that referred to the Sabbatical Year.
Leviticus 25:22 says:
“When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating some of the old crop; you shall eat the old until the ninth year, when its crop arrives.”
Wait what? How could I have not done that math properly from the start. Of course it makes sense, if I spend a whole year neither sowing nor reaping, and then I sow at the start of the next year, I won’t reap until the harvest two years later.
I just asked Megan about this. We were discussing how I knew my priorities were shifting toward applications. I asked her something along the lines of:
“is this year supposed to be completely void of thinking about a career, wouldn’t that mean I would need to trust God to provide for two years, because if I don’t apply anywhere this year, next year might be an entire year of applications.”
The answer, based on the Text, is yes.
I am supposed to both fully disengage from my working to get employed and fully engage in the faithfulness of our God. To date, I submitted four applications. No more though, I will sow again in the eighth year. This year is my bride’s.
I have learned that:
Rest is not easy.
Trust is not easy.
If God were inviting someone to pen His narrative today, He might have them tell you to unplug for a moment. To lay down your cell phones, tablets, and laptops this holiday. Forget the selfie, the preservation of a photo does not make the moment last any longer, rather it steals your focus from Him to you. As we collectively celebrate a world changing birth, drop the drummer boy busyness and enter the solace of a chilly sheep pen. Rip yourself from the distracting lights, colors, and music; and wrap yourself in the smells of manure, sweat, blood, and the sounds of groaning, crying, and sighing.
To us a savior is born, not a savior of comfort, but a prince of peace. A peace you will not find among the hustle and bustle of the commercial season, but a peace you can trust.