Christian Living

soultransformation 06/18/10

Slowing Down for a Sabbath Rest

“Hi. I’m Bill. I’m a workaholic and adrenaline addict in recovery.”

Now you should say, “Hi Bill!” (That’s the way it goes in a 12 Step Group.)

How did I recover? How did I get free of adrenaline dependence and anxious overworking? By slowing down for a Sabbath rest. 

The Peace of Christ

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” Paul says (Colossians 3:15). We all long for the peace of Christ. But we don’t want to be ruled!

Sabbath teaches me to let go of all the ways I want to make things happen, or of the control of the people and situations in my life. It helps me to be governed by God in what I do and in how I do it.

My guess is that you need Sabbath time too. It’s a powerful treatment not only for overworking or adrenaline dependence, but also for busyness, anxiety, self-importance, trying to control the outcomes of situations, and worrying about pleasing or impressing people.

Little-by-Little I Started Practicing a Sabbath

For many years keeping a Sabbath to me meant going to church, spending some time with my family, and squeezing in as many “projects” as I could. That’s not a bad way to spend a Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to teach me how to live in God’s peace.

The writer to the Hebrews teaches us that New Testament Christians need a Sabbath rest:

Be careful!… Anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work… So make every effort to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:1, Hebrews 4:8-11).

Seven years ago I started being intentional about setting aside a day of prayer for spiritual rest and renewal. Ray Ortlund was my spiritual mentor at the time and he got me taking a one or two day retreat every three months. Gradually, I built that up to one day every week.

Now, please don’t think I’m holy because I keep a Sabbath! (Or that you’re an inferior Christian if you’re not keeping a Sabbath in the way that I do.) I do this because I need help to be still and know that the Lord is God – he is in charge, not me! (Psalm 46:10).

What I do on My Sabbath

On my Sabbath I do no work – that’s the key. I try not to be productive. I have no agenda except to spend the day with Jesus, doing whatever we want to do together. Usually, the best way for me to connect with Jesus is in quiet solitude. (Sometimes all or part of my Sabbath is spent with my family or on a community retreat.)

My Sabbath may include sleeping in or getting up before sunrise. I may stay holed up in my prayer room or go for a hike in the hills or go to a retreat center. Wherever I go, usually I fast from media and sometimes from food, too, to help me to pray.

I always spend some time in God’s Word on my Sabbath day.  I pray a Psalm, do Lectio Divina (a special way of meditating on a passage from the Bible), or practice Abiding Prayer (slowly and deeply meditating on a verse from the Bible). But I save Bible study for another day since being studious is not restful.

I need to engage my heart with God, so I focus on being with Christ and conversing with him. In my journal I process my experiences, confess my sins, or write down what I sense God is saying to me. I have filled My Psalms Prayer Book with these writings, including many prayer poems and abiding prayers that I use over and over and share with others.

“He Restores My Soul”

Setting aside extended time to unhook from normal activity and noise and connect with Christ is such a blessing! Sabbath teaches us to live in the “easy yoke” of Jesus every day! (Matthew 11:28-30).

When we make the Lord our Shepherd, learn to lie down in his green pastures, and take the time to drink from his still waters then we will say with David in Psalm 23: “He restores my soul!”

Sabbath time is good for the soul! And it’s a time to love on the Lord!

Additional Soul Transformation Resources

Hurry Up and Be Still: Freedom From Adrenaline Dependence”  explains more of the story of how I overcame anxious workaholism, rushing around, and being keyed up with adrenaline.

To learn more about Silence and Solitude, Praying the Psalms, Fasting, Lectio Divina, or Abiding Prayer go to Spiritual Disciplines on SoulShepherding.org.

Bill’s prayer poems will inspire you to pray the Psalms.

Sign up for Bill’s free Twitter or Facebook (1-2 abiding prayer phrases per day).

Sign up for Bill’s free Christian Soul Care Devotional (1-2 devotional teachings per month) or Soul Shepherding Blog (1-2 prayer practices per month).

William Gaultiere, Ph.D. is a Psychologist specializing in “Christian Soul Care” since 1986.  Bill and his wife Kristi (a Marriage and Family Therapist) have a donor-supported ministry to pastors and leaders called Soul Shepherding.  In counseling, spiritual mentoring, seminars, and retreats Bill and Kristi help people to connect deeply with Christ in ways that facilitate soul transformation. At Bill and Kristi’s webstie, SoulShepherding.org, you will find articles, prayers, and pictures to nourish your soul in God. 

William Gaultiere, Ph.D. ~ Soul Shepherding, 4000 Barranca Pkwy, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92604 ~ http://www.soulshepherding.org/ ~ 949.262.3699 ~ or go to the Contact page on the Soul Shepherding website.

William Gaultiere, Ph.D. & Kristi Gaultiere, Psy.D. ~ http://www.soulshepherding.org

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