This week was my annual clergy covenant retreat. I think this is the 14th year we’ve been together. (I’ve kind of lost track!) Our time together is full of sharing the joys and difficulties of ministry, catching up on each other’s families, and listening and praying for one another. We laugh a lot, too! We’re at the stage of our friendship where being together is easy and deeply restful. I look forward to this week every year as one of great encouragement and much needed re-creation. This year I found myself especially needing the time away. As I was praying about the trip, God revealed the spiritual significance of this time of rest. He brought me back to one of my favorite verses: For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15. I often forget that the Bible teaches that rest brings us a deeper understanding of our salvation. Quietness brings strength.
As we approach summer and a season which provides a different pattern to our schedules, I have a question for you: what brings you rest? What re-creates you? What brings quiet to your soul? Given the drivenness of our culture, it is easy to forget that rest is essential not only to our physical life but to our spiritual life as well. Rest restores us physically and we need that physical restoration to properly stay attuned to the Lord’s work of salvation in our life. I had a professor who said that the most holy thing you can do is take a nap. Isaiah confirms this! Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is sleep or go for a walk or spend time with friends. The important thing is that we stop. We rest. We quiet ourselves so that the Lord can refresh us physically and spiritually. I used to feel guilty about this retreat with my friends. But not anymore. If I don’t take retreats and vacations and time to quiet myself, I get exhausted physically and spiritually. I can’t be who God has made me to be. Neither can you. Neither can anyone. So, this summer find ways to have true, deep rest. It will bring strength and salvation to your whole being!