Why we need Rest as a Rhythm (chapter 2, part 1)

I missed chapter 1! Read here

In chapter 2 of Rest, Keri shares how performance experts have noticed that tennis games between top performers are usually won based on how effectively players use their time in between points. So, rather than one player having more perfect strokes, the game is often determined based on routines that allow one player to recover better during the seconds between. Does that surprise you?

Similarly, Keri shares her husband’s perspective on what happens to muscles when they are at work and in rest: “When you work to failure, the muscle fibers actually break down… Then when you rest, blood flows into the muscles and they rebuild themselves.” Did you know that your muscles have to rest in order to grow?

Growing mental strength works similarly. By taking risks, you actually re-train your brain in the face of fear. So every time Jeremy and I climb we are exercising not only physically, but also engaging our mind in fear-fighting and problem-solving.

Keri suggests that soul rest is equally necessary for growth. She says many of us “are never fully engaged, and we never take time to disengage.” Keeping Sabbath is about living life to almost the point of “muscle failure” and then stopping to rest. Because we stop, we can go fully.

At first, stopping to rest seems like it will make us busier, but then we realize that it feels like a luxury and it is indeed a gift. It is “actually the secret to getting more done, to understanding and living our true priorities, to enjoying our lives, and to experiencing the presence of God.” What do you think? Would you be willing to rest in order to be more productive?

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 2 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 2, part 2!

Biblical Sabbath (chapter 1)

If you missed last week’s introduction to this book discussion, read here. If you’re ready for discussion of chapter 1, keep reading below…

So what does the Bible say about Sabbath?

Rabbis & Law

The beginning of the first chapter of Rest explains that in ancient Jewish culture, rabbis typically began an apprenticeship of sorts under a rabbi whose teachings they were familiar with and shared. Every now and then, a rabbi would come along who had his own interpretation of the ancient laws and he would use verbage, such as “You have heard it said… but I tell you.” A rabbi who spoke in this way, like Jesus, was said to “speak with authority” and would have caught people’s attention because such a teacher would be saying new things about old ideas.

When someone followed a rabbi’s teaching they were said to be “taking up that rabbi’s yoke.” Jesus described his yoke as “easy,” yet He seemed to hold people to a higher standard of the law, while acknowledging it was impossible to keep. He also claimed that He fulfilled the law (Mt. 5:17).

New Rabbi, New Sabbath Law: Freedom

How did Jesus describe the Sabbath? He said it was “holy,” set apart, and He said it was “made for people,” not the other way around. What did Jesus do on the Sabbath? On the Sabbath, we see Jesus teaching in the synagogue, walking in a grain field defending the disciples choice to help themselves to a snack, healing people and eating with people.

Kent says that Jesus kept Sabbath, not as culture expected him to, but with great freedom and that if we want to take up his yoke, we too will both keep the Sabbath and live in freedom. Do those two ideas sound opposing?  They did to me at first too! She suggests that Jesus viewed the Sabbath as an opportunity to restore and reconnect people physically and spiritually.

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 1 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 2, part 1!

Rest: an introduction

Are you in need of rest? I don’t just mean a little sleep; I mean soul rest. Join us for a Tuesday book discussion:

Why this book?

Today we begin discussing a book by Keri Wyatt Kent entitled Rest. Rest was the first of Kent’s books I read and it made a lasting impact on me. I was initially interested in reading it because I was longing to incorporate more rest into my life and I had no idea how.

Specifically, I wanted to learn more about the Jewish and Christian ideas of Sabbath. How was it originally intended to be practiced, and is there any relevance to our current time and place? The introduction and subtitle of the book is “Living in Sabbath Simplicity,” suggesting that Sabbath rest is part of a rhythm of a simple life. That thought sounded appealing to me then, and I have returned to the book since whenever I need a reminder why rest is important or help making rest happen.

What is Sabbath rest?

In the introduction, Kent says that Sabbath is both a command and a spiritual practice. Like other practices, her goal is not perfect implementation, but to share how practicing Sabbath led her to encounter God and changed her life. She suggests that the rest and recreation that come with Sabbath actually re-create us.

Kent emphasizes the idea that the practice of keeping the Sabbath is a journey. My own experience of practicing rest has also been something that I am continually growing in. There are many questions connected to the idea of Sabbath-keeping so Kent’s is one example that I have found helpful to me, personally.

For Keri and her family, Sabbath is a “day which almost always includes some activity, yet remains a respite from hurry and chaos. A day when we focus on one another instead of on our to-do lists. Still, we never have perfect Sundays. Thank God. Because often, what I need to rest from most is my perfectionism.” I’m still working out what Sabbath means for me, and Jeremy and I are growing in our understanding of it together, but we practice Sabbath on Saturdays. What comes to your mind when you think of the word Sabbath?

Share with us in a comment below! If you are interested in reading the book along with our discussion, you can order it here or check your local library. Then join us next Tuesday for a look at the first chapter and a Biblical perspective of Sabbath.