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Earl Marshall

Things I am Learning While on Sabbath Rest

As of the middle of July Brenda and I are on a three month extended period of "sabbath rest". We are doing well.  After a couple of weeks of previously planned vacation in July we started our three month "break" attempting to concentrate on "rest".  It sounds easy but as we are learning not always so.  As time progresses we are getting better at it. 

Cottage_201 One of the first things I did before beginning this break from routine was buy a Kayak.  I have always wanted a Kayak, so I now own my own ship.  Best part about it is that I don’t have to pay launching fees.  I am calling her "Sabbath".

Last week I was able to spend a few days on my own in a "spiritual retreat" with God.  I had an awesome time and God spoke very clearly into my life.   

We are both grateful for your continued prayers for us as we seek rest and renewal.

So here are some of the things that I am learning over the past month . . .

Life goes on.  This is a good reminder.  Things continue to happen whether I am present or not.  Summer camps have come and gone, student mission trip to Jamaica (ya mon), babies are born (congrats Sonya and Chris – Avery and Emerson to). plans and decisions are being made. 

God is in control.  I was reminded of this one early morning while I was paddling through the stillness of the lake and talking to God about how I was feeling about things.  While I was focused on the conversation a Loon popped up beside me, just a few metres away from where I was sitting.  Loons are majestic birds.  This one was very comfortable with my presence and I with it.  Then as fast as it appeared it was gone under the waters surface.  As I paddled further it reappeared.  We continued this process for the next 30 minutes.  As I continued my conversation with God the Loon became a reminder to me of God’s ongoing presence, his control in my life.  From our perspective He appears, then seemingly disappears, only to "pop up" again.  We may go through periods of silence when it feels that God is not near or even present but He is indeed.

We seldom dive in.  I learned this lesson from a Blue Heron that swooped past me one morning to land on a neigbours dock.  Heron’s are magnificent in the air and awkward when they are standing.  This Heron landed on the dock, awkwardly walked to the edge of the dock only to strain its neck to the water’s surface as if to take a long peek.  He then retreated from the dock and flew across the bay to another dock where he repeated this strange ritual.  I am not sure what he was looking for or whether he ever did find it.  But this ritual struck me as a reminder of how many of us treat our relationship with God and in particular God’s love for us.  We swoop in for a landing, awkwardly walk towards the edge of our relationship with God, and take a long hard look.  Some of these looks leave us satisfied for a moment only for us to once again repeat the ritual perhaps from a different perspective.  We look, and we even learn new things about God, His character, His love for us.  We appreciate these things as we serve a passing glance but how many of us just dive in?

I have completed two books so far, "The Rest of God" by Mark Buchanan and "The Deeper Journey" by M. Robert Mulholland.  It is from this last book that I leave you with this thought.

So many of us are "busy being in the world for God that we have failed to be in God for the world".

I will check back in sometime near the end of August.


  1. Wow, how did you swing 3 months off? Majorly lucky.

  2. Our church leaders and family have been very gracious. The amount of time they have given us is an amazing gift, we do appreciate it. I am not sure I would use the words “majorly lucky” to describe my need for these three months away to focus on sabbath rest.

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