The Bungalow

See: Soft floral linens being lifted and spread over a comfortable mattress in the corner; whitewashed wooden planks underfoot; the dying evening light filtered through palm trees and wavy-glass windowpanes; a bouquet of greenery spilling over onto the counter; flickering shadows cast by a cheerful fire; candles and lanterns strategically placed throughout the loft; books stacked next to a plush sofa; an easel with paints and canvas standing ready next to the window

Hear: The distant crashing of waves; birds chattering to one another as the wind picks up; a tea kettle beginning to whistle from the crackling fireplace; a pencil softly writing in a notebook; the gentle rhythm of mist hitting the tin roof

Taste: Lavender tea; warm lemon scones; salty air; the metallic flavor of a storm coming in

Feel: A wooly chunky knit blanket; warmth from the fire; a cat curled up on my lap; the weight of my favorite book; a woven jute rug under bare feet

Smell: Remnants of this morning’s coffee; driftwood smoke; vanilla, lemon, and lavender; the sea breeze; coconuts from the trees just outside; warm, damp earth

Everyone has their own idea of a happy place, providing safety and comfort so fragile it might only exist in imagination. But we don’t have to spend our life savings creating such a location. I think the Lord meant for us to find this spirit of home in sabbath rest.

Sabbath (or shabbat, as the Hebrew has it) is unique to our God. Other gods want their adherents to produce, to slave, to endlessly perform. The idols of prestige, power, money, fame: they all demand so much. While the world works and worries and whimpers and whirls, the Lord’s people are invited to pause intentionally, to rest in what has already been done for us. It’s a celebration of Christ’s triumphant final words: “It is finished!” This takes an enormous amount of security in the middle of a culture that measures significance by busyness. But the amount of space it allows for our souls to breathe in makes all the difference. There is freedom here, and joy, and room for play.

Riley and I are just returning from a month of sabbath: no ministry, no productivity, no deadlines, no expectations, and no social media.

It was glorious. And hard.

It was all the things.

The time away gave us a chance to grow both as individuals and together. Because the constant buzz we’d grown used to over the past five years of church planting was silenced, we went through quite the emotional progression:

1. Excitement: “This is so great! Let’s turn off all of our notifications, delete Facebook from our phones, and become hermits three hours before we absolutely have to!”

2. Nervousness: “I really hope everything is okay without us.”

3. YOLO: “Who cares? It’s not our problem right now.”

4. Dark night of the soul: “I GOT A TEXT/EMAIL SAYING THE WORLD IS ENDING WITHOUT US!!! ABORT! ABORT!”

5. Voice of reason: “No, you cannot reply. Be strong. Don’t make me hide your phone.”

6. Acceptance: “God can handle the world ending without us. Let’s just be here now.”

7. Boredom: “I absolutely can’t take another nap. I’m sleeping my entire life away.”

8. Questioning: “Who even am I without ministry? Is this real life? Can I come out of this cave now?”

9. Juvenile logic: “Let’s escape all of this free time built around rest by doing stuff! We need to watch 78 movies, an entire season of The Crown, and hope no one asks what all we did.”

10. Renewed energy: “This month has been such an emotional roller coaster that I can’t wait to get back to normal! I promise I’ll never complain again about the hard/tedious/weird parts of ministry life. Please, can I go now? I have a month’s worth of pent-up energy that needs an outlet!”

Obviously, this sounds like something everyone should want to do. (Ha.) But in case you don’t have a church full of people who want to send you away for a month, find means of sneaking sabbath into your everyday life. What makes your heart sigh in relief? A day without clocks or Facebook or plans or human interaction? Put it on the calendar. Do you feel more on vacay mode when you can eat out and not do dishes? Save up for a few meals at restaurants. Splurge on a vase of fresh flowers. Excuse yourself from unnecessary stress. Recognize that God has released you from all of the shoulds and have-tos and welcomed you into “it’s already done, little one.” Who could you be if you lived from that place? Be brave and find out.

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