Book Report: Rhythms of Rest

Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World by Shelly Miller

“In a busy world that prescribes more—more exercise, more diets, more involvement in community, more engagement on social media, more ways to make money, more education, and more resources for ramping up productivity—a rhythm of daily silence and weekly Sabbath is making a (quiet) comeback.”

If you struggle as much as I do with God’s command to rest, this book is for you. Shelly’s thoughtful, quiet voice welcomes us along on a Sabbath journey—not toward a bunch of starchy clothes and stodgy rules, but toward the heart of a gracious Father beckoning us to unload. As we create a regular day of margin in the middle of our chaotic lives, we find ourselves replenished with hope, comfort, and perspective. Have you been on the hamster wheel too long, stuck in survival mode and just trying to make it through another day? Sabbath is God’s provision for your weary soul.

A few especially memorable quotes:

Life spins with responsibilities, but with a Sabbath heart as the axis, an overflow of expectancy from the riches of rest spills out daily through the practice of preparation.

Tales of adventure and risk for the kingdom inspire us toward the fulfillment of hope.

Because God is a gentleman—not pushy, showy, or fickle with His presence—He courts desire from beneath the layers we create for protection. Not to manipulate emotions but to cradle purpose with strength and power, when you are ready for surrender to the weight of it.

Sabbath is a reminder that there are no last chances with Jesus. In Christ, each day is a new beginning of “hello” and “I love you.”

When your only choice is to pray, trust, and accept plunging the knife into the dreams you’ve held tightly, God will provide rescue, a glimmer of hope through a ram in the thicket. We must die to life as we know it for resurrection to take place.

This is the simple outcome of Sabbath: God’s nearness becomes palpable, singing all around us.

Rest requires that we be who we are and nothing else. A life built upon Sabbath is contented because in rhythms of rest we discover our time is full of the holiness of God.

My big takeaway is how easily my identity gets tangled up with my productivity. This book has provided a lovely little mantra for those moments when I need to put things aside, even half-finished, to be with the Lord: “If I do less, I am not less.” Building what I accomplish into a ticket to the throne room can never work—it will either result in pride (if I happen to succeed, which I never do) or shame (my perpetual nemesis). Shelly states that

Shame is the fear of being unlovable, and when we live as if we are unlovable, that mindset becomes a stumbling block to those around us.

I don’t want to teach others that they must earn God’s smiles, time, or attention by what they produce. But when I allow my checklist to bully chances to bask in His presence, that’s what I’m communicating: we are more acceptable when we have finished ________________. (Which is the polar opposite of the gospel.) Among other things, intentional and interruptive rest protects me from becoming a false teacher. It keeps me humbly returning to the Savior without a bag full of trophies—and knowing I’ll be wrapped up in just as much affection without them.

Ten journaling questions inspired by the text:

  • What goals and intentions for rest have I set? should I set?
  • How have I seen chronic busyness result in soul amnesia?
  • What am I afraid I might hear if I stop to rest?
  • Where would extravagant wastefulness be redemptive in my life?
  • What activities bring me peace and clear-headed thinking?
  • What am I missing because I’m too busy to notice?
  • If rest and love are connected, where might hustle be communicating a subversive message that I am unlovable?
  • What are some places in and around my life I have assumed God was absent but find He’s actually been loving me there all along?
  • What does living well look like for me right now?
  • How can I embrace and honor limits with my time as God resets my boundaries in this season?

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