He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)
Another new year is upon us. I am not sure why it surprises me, this chronos change. Chronos is our chronological time and it often proves mundane and monotonous ~ especially when carrying a promise of a more vibrant time. Many times the New Year is frustrating for me as I reflect on the previous year; the list scribbled hastily and tucked neatly into my Bible; few of them accomplished. Too few. I have purposed this year not to have resolutions; a list to beg before the God of Glory; rather, I want to have a year of purpose.
“Chronos betrays us, always. It devours the beauty it creates. But sometimes chronos betrays itself: it stirs in us a longing for Something Else ~ Something that the beauty of things in time evokes but cannot satisfy… we end up as the man in Ecclesiastes did: driven, driven, driven, racing hard against chronos, desperate to seize beauty but always gasping smoke, ashes, and thorns. Seeking purpose and finding none, only emptiness.” (Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God, p. 37).
New Year’s list do that to me. I chase these “things” I think I want or need, only to end the year in frustration and disappointment. A couple of ministries I have come across speak to this very issue; instead of lists choose to prayerfully seek a word to guide your year. Though I have not joined their movements, I am intrigued by the idea. I have grown weary of lists, prayer requests, resolutions. I need something different. A minister gave the definition of insanity the other day: insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results. That is what New Years has become to me, this running on a treadmill chasing after those things I think I need. Change will not come doing the same thing over and over; I don’t want another trip around the same mountain.
This year I don’t have a list of things I want or need; I have a word. That word is a promise the Lord spoke into my life fourteen-years ago. I have carried this promise; I have prayed, fasted, cried, drank, ate, slept ~ breathed this promise. Nothing consumes me like this promise. I imagine this is familiar to Sarah. She waited twenty-five years for her promise of a child. Rachel screamed in anguish to Isaac in the face of her barenness, Give me children, or I’ll die! (see Gen. 30:1) Imagine being pregnant for fourteen years; that is how I feel. I am bloated, swollen, hungry, tired, and willing to do anything to give birth to this baby inside me. I have tried all that I know to bring this promise to pass. Give me this promise lest I die! I have uttered such anguish often. But as every pregnant woman knows, despite all the wives’ tales and gimmicks ~ spicy food, walking, bumpy car rides, and herbal teas ~ that baby will come only when it’s time. There is nothing left to do but rest.
Rest. God dealt with me a couple years ago about rest; in fact, my blog used to be named Finding Rest In God. That’s my word for 2015. Sabbath, or further sabbatismos ~ a lifestyle of Sabbath rest and Sabbath observance. The Greek sabbatismos is an idea far beyond church on Sunday. It is an attitude, a heart condition. This is not a legalistic ritual, but prayerfully seeking a new perspective.
“Sabbath is both a day and an attitude to nurture such stillness. It is both time on a calendar and a disposition of the heart. It is a day we enter, but just as much a way we see. Sabbath imparts the rest of God ~ actual physical, mental, spiritual rest, but also the rest of God ~ the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness… A Sabbath heart is restful even in the midst of unrest and upheaval.” (pp.3-4).
It means that I believe God’s promise to me, even though all hell is breaking loose around me. It is changing my thinking; believing what God has promised regardless of my circumstances.
God is more interested in changing my mindset and thinking than in changing my circumstances.
Sabbatismos is learning to rest in the promises of God. God’s promise for my life is not always easy to believe. Sometimes I question if I am going crazy; or I try to make things happen when they don’t come to pass as I envisioned. We are all guilty of this. Like Abraham and Sarah, and many others before us, we laugh thinking things impossible. We attempt to bring things about in our own way. Yet the great cloud of witnesses that went before us, though they did doubt, laugh, and manipulate to see God’s promises come to pass, eventually made it into the Hebrews 11 famous Hall of Faith. How? The Bible says they did not waver in their faith. But we read their stories, we know they questioned God ~ laughed even, and attempted to usurp God’s power for the completion of their promises.
I believe the transition happened when they came to the end of themselves; realizing that only God can fulfill His promises. The stability in their faith came when they believed what God told them and entered into His rest; the rest of knowing God is performing His Word.
Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:12 NASB
Circumstances may look overwhelming, storms toss your boat to and fro; causing you to cry out, Master don’t you care that we are perishing?! (see Mark 4:38). He does care, and when we rest in Him, we will not perish; we will find deliverance and rest for our souls. He may not always calm the storm, but He will calm us in the midst of the storm. Just keep your eyes on Him.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Is. 26:3 KJV)
Sabbatismos is also resting in God’s Word and hearing His voice in the midst of the storm. Elijah didn’t hear God’s voice in the whirlwind, earthquake, or fire. He heard the Spirit of God whisper into the depths of his spirit ~ the still small voice (see 1 Kings 19:11-13). From that day forth, Elijah knew the sound of God’s voice, then he heard Him despite the whirlwind, earthquake, and fires. The Apostle John, while in exile on Patmos, heard a familiar voice, though He appeared differently than when the beloved disciple rested on His chest… he recognized The Voice:
I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet. (Rev. 1:9-10)
The very sight of Him caused John to fall at His feet like a dead man (see Rev. 1:17), but John knew His voice. I want to hear and know God’s voice. I want Him to whisper truth into my spirit. I pray for Him to whisper in the dark things to be spoken in the light.
What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. (Matt. 10:27 NASB)
Sabbatismos. It is time to stop striving and begin thriving. I want to stop striving with feelings of being left behind, or that I have missed my door somehow. God is in control, and this baby will be birthed ~ a promise long anticipated. God will not leave me or forsake me. I am simply in a holding pattern. He is preparing everything on the ground to ensure a safe landing.
This year I will rest in God’s promise. If He spoke it He will bring it to pass. I need only rest in Him, believe what He tells me and enter into His rest. If I rest in Him, He will interrupt my chronos with His right, opportune moment; His ordained kairos, and I will witness the divine of what God has done from beginning to end.