A few weeks ago, Mark and I took a trip to Estes Park, Colorado. We had never traveled to Colorado in the fall, so we spent three days in Rocky Mountain National Park. Breathtaking doesn’t quite sum it up. The leaves were glowing bright oranges and yellows. The air was crisp and cool. The hikes took us through sunlit meadows and alongside shimmering lakes tucked into cascading mountains. Elk were grazing through wide-open fields as bystanders like us listened for the three octave shrill of the male elk.
As we hiked and held silence, I spent time breathing in God; praying, “Spirit fall afresh on me.” I have no shame in sharing that three months into this transition I was feeling weary. I was in need of getting away with God, of allowing nature to restore my soul, of resting with God. Over the years, I have learned what fills my cup. Journaling, silence, music, the woods — these things all usher me into the presence of God. In that holy space, my intentions, motivations, and actions are reoriented once again to God’s desire for how I might love myself and others best. This practice of turning myself back to God is not just meant for trips to Colorado; it is a habit I need daily.
As a church, we have entered into a season of stewardship in which we are rediscovering the joy found in giving our time, talents, and tithes. Our focus on time this week has me wondering: how many of us overlook the power of resting with God because we are "too busy?" How many of us would reclaim joy in our lives if we set aside daily time to be alone with God?
To be sure, this might be the hardest discipline of all. We find meaningful relationships, deep conversation, and spiritual growth by engaging in Sunday school classes, bible studies, and worship. It is often easier to be with God in community than it is to be alone with God. Just this Wednesday, I witnessed the beauty of what can happen in our spiritual lives when we commit ourselves to weekly bible study together. But this shouldn’t keep us from examining what individually fills our cup. What practices draw you closer to God? How can you honor them?
In the Message version of Matthew 11:28-30, God offers us an invitation. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I return to this passage often, because it reminds me that another way is possible for the people of God. When we set aside time to get away with God, God will restore our souls. God will teach us the unforced rhythms of grace. God will show us how to live freely and lightly. This week, may you find JOY in resting with God.
Rev. Sam McGlothlin