Tag Archive | Priscilla Shirer

14 minutes, 14 inches

What could you do with 14 minutes in your day?  How could you use 14 extra inches of space?

A group of us have been meeting each week to learn about the Sabbath principle in the study called “Breathe” by Phyllis Shirer.  It has been a learning curve for us women who are used to filling our days, our schedules, our homes, and our lives with so much.  We look around and see no margins, no space, no breathing room because of all the things and events we have gathered into our existence.

“Breathe” has presented a different way of living.  It’s the way God commanded His children as they walked away from Egyptian slavery and into a life of freedom.  These former slaves didn’t know the meaning of pausing to rest or ceasing their labors.  They entered their freedom with a slave mentality, and it would take drastic measures to change their way of thinking.

God wanted to teach them that He was their sustainer and provider.  He would feed them and protect them and meet their needs if they would only follow His instructions.  They were told to gather manna six days and then rest on the seventh day, eating what remained from their sixth day gathering.

Like  us, they tested this theory and tested their God which created quite a stink in the camp because they refused to listen and learn that God really means what He says.  And He always gives commands that turn out for our good.

So this past Tuesday, we were offered a challenge.  We are to take a 14 minute Sabbath rest each day, and we are to clear 14 inches of space during the week.

My mind begins to swirl with thoughts of plastic containers in my lower kitchen cabinet; a pantry overflowing with boxes, cans, and jars; a freezer that is stuffed; a closet that contains more clothes than I ever wear; storage spaces that are filled to the brim.

It truly is a challenge to begin thinking less is OK when we’ve spent much of our lives thinking the more the better.

We purchase out of want not need.  We gather on our six days and also on our seventh because Wal-Mart and Lowes and Kroger and Walgreens are all open.  The washer and dryer run equally well each and every day; and I can shop on-line, search the web, and connect with social media 24/7.

Our schedules are packed with multiple events on too many days. TIme passes and we look at the people in our house and wonder when we’ve had a real conversation.  We collapse into bed at night and are already thinking of all there is to do tomorrow.  Our brains are as tired as our bodies.

And then we wonder why we are exhausted, living life too full but enjoying it less.

But Jesus came to offer an abundant life not an abundance of things and a fully packed day after day after day.

The women of our group take the challenge.  How we do this will be different for each of us.  But we will try with all our hearts.  Because the point is not just to follow someone’s directive or to complete the assignment.  The point is to give place and time to remember our Creator, to pause and give thanks for the bounty of gifts His has given, to cease our work for a little while and know it is enough.

Our God is sovereign over all.  He is our sustainer, our provider, the boss of the universe.  His commands are not to deny us but to give us a full and rich life, one that relies on Him to supply our every need according to His riches in Christ Jesus.  In obedience we work and we rest.  We have time to play with our children and grandchildren; time to enjoy the fruits of our labors; time to worship and find joy in our God.

God is in control of it all.  It would behoove us to sit up straight and pay attention.  He’s not joking.  He really means what He says.  Come sit awhile.  Rest.  Breathe.  It’s good for you.

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Breathe in, breathe out

Whenever I start a new Bible study, you know I just have to write about it.

A beautiful group of women and I began Priscilla Shirer’s Breathe study which is helping us to a better understanding of the Sabbath.  Being a “good little church girl” who practically cut her teeth on the pews, I should know how to do Sabbath.  Right?  Not necessarily.

As a Christian, I’ve always worshiped on Sundays and considered it our “day of rest,” though I can tell you sometimes it’s been anything but restful.  I’ve spent many a week, Sundays included, going full force, never really pausing to take much of a break.  I’d go from one task to the next, from one appointment to another. There was a time I actually took pride in how much I could accomplish and was constantly tweaking my time management skills to see if I could be more efficient.  Really I was trying to see if I could squeeze in one more thing.

That was when I learned about stress.  It became the catch word in those days.  We were running fast, accomplishing more, climbing the corporate ladder, often leaving the really important things in our dust. We became workaholics, addicts to our behaviors.  Eventually we began to run out of steam.  We became sleep deprived.  Relationships languished for lack of time together.  Oh we talked about quality time over quantity time, but it was more of an excuse to keep doing what we were doing. Instead of trying to do less, we just wanted to know how to manage our stress better.  There had to be a secret way of continuing our rat race without falling over from pure exhaustion, spent and fully depleted.

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It was 2006.  I was at one of the lowest points of my life.  Financially strapped.  Emotionally drained. The future was uncertain and looked rather bleak. My insecurities filled a bushel basket.  I crowned myself “the Queen of Part-time Jobs,” working four or five of them at one time just trying to make ends meet, and perhaps to keep my mind busy so I didn’t have time to think about the state of my life.

I was the proverbial candle burning at both ends.

Enter the Sabbath principle.

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The Spirit of God convicted me about the way I was living my life.  I was acting like it all depended on me.  There had to be a change.  I determined, with the Lord’s help, to try honoring a rest day and chose Sunday after church (church was one of my part-time jobs from 7:45 am to 12 noon).  I decided I would take the remainder of the day to rest, relax and refresh.

The first week, I prepared for the challenge.  I did everything I could on the Saturday before, scurrying around to finish as much as possible before bedtime.  By Sunday afternoon, I closed my day planner, turned off the computer, and refused to do my regular work.

It was challenging that first day because I was not used to doing “nothing.”  I was a work horse who was chomping at the bit to accomplish something even if it was a load of clothes thrown in the washer, a drawer that needed organizing, phone calls to customers, or papers to file.

Instead, I read.  I napped. I leisurely watched a movie.  I walked outside. I visited with people in my neighborhood.

By the third week of this new routine, I began to look forward to my Sunday afternoon.  My mind rested along with my body.  I realized the world would not stop turning and I could still get a lot done in my six days of working.  It was life changing really.

Since then, I’ve made the effort to honor the Sabbath principle in my week.  I’ve not done it perfectly.  I am prone to try to do too much and fill my schedule too full.  I know that about myself and often have to pull in the reigns of this work horse.  I have to guard my time when I could easily fill it with too many things.  Even too many good things can become burdensome.

I have found the gift of rest is exactly that – a gift.  God knows how we are, that we push to the limits. That we try to do it all.  That we think we are invincible.  That we tend to depend on our own strength instead of drawing from His.

As believers in Christ Jesus, we are free from the burdens of regulations and rules.  But sometimes we ignore the principles God has given us for our good.  And a Sabbath rest is good for us.  We need it.  We need the space, the balance.

We must remember that we are not in control and the world does not depend on us.  We do better with rest, sleep, and a little down time.  God is the one who never slumbers or sleeps.  He is the one who carries the weight of the world on His shoulders, not me.

Honoring Sabbath puts things into perspective.  I see myself in light of a great and powerful God.  He asks me to work well on six days, then stop and rest awhile.  It is wise.  It is healthy.  It has rewards we often overlook.

A Sabbath rest will look differently for each of us.  But it is something worth considering, worth incorporating into our week and our lives.

Will you take the challenge?  Will you give yourself some breathing room?

Breathing in and out – it is good for the body and the soul.

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For all my musician friends out there. {smile}

stop, rest