Last week Brenda and I enjoyed a week in Ohio putting into practice an extended period of Sabbath Rest at one of the Pastors Retreat Network locations. It was a fantastic week of spending time together and alone with God without many of the normal daily distractions and it was free. We were right in the middle of Amish country and I even was able to visit the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton. Life is good!
While we were there we worked our way through a guided sabbath rest retreat. It was a gift to be able to reflect on scripture for hours at end. It was exciting to allow God to minister to me and allow the truth of God’s word to sink in.
One of the passages that impacted me was Exodus 31:12-17 where God gives Israel Sabbath instruction. It seems to me that the Sabbath was a sign of a particular kind of relationship that Israel had with her God. This concept alone is worth exploring but I really want to focus on the idea that Sabbath practice was a means by which the Israelites could know God and that it was God that made them holy. I take from these verses a very strong sense that in order to truly know God one must Sabbath.
So here is my question for those of you who really want to know God. What does it mean for you to Sabbath so that you are really knowing God? How do you implement that in your life weekly?
Recently some of the children of our neighbourhood, after watching the movie "Holes", had decided to reinact the movie in other people’s lawns in the neighbourhood. After some young teenager shared bravado one of the children suggested that my lawn be the excavation site upon which it was announced, "we can’t do that God lives across the street". Being a pastor sometimes can be a negative but it has its perks. While I certainly do not espouse to be anywhere close to Godlike status (my friends and especially pastoral friends will be more than willing to affirm that) I kind of like the sound of "God lives across the street" and not because I am into my lawn.
We have been living "up on the hill" in "Brampton North" (none of these are complements from the locals here in O’ville) for almost seven years and we are now enjoying the beginning of some meaningful friendships with our neighbours. Those of us that live in suburbia (technically O’ville is not suburbia but our neighbourhood is definitely designed that way) know how hard it is to develop relationships in our neighbourhoods. So you can imagine my surprise this morning when the mother of the child who thinks "God lives across the street" called out to me just before she jumped into her taxi. She asked the taxi driver to wait, crossed the street and then came up to me and told me how much she had been moved by a sermon I had preached a few weeks ago entitled "Exhausted". "It was like you were speaking right to me", she said (God moment).
What is most amazing is that this woman does not attend our church or any church in the area. A few weeks ago she had "just shown up" at our front door with a Bible in hand asking if my wife would pray for her. I suppose she must have been listening to her son, "God lives across the street".
I am reminded once again of the amazing opportunity we have to represent God on our streets.