By Pastor Wes Poole
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. – NRSV
Last week, as I was coming back from SC and the funeral of my sister’s best friend, I was rather focused and stressed. It was a whirlwind of a trip; emotionally fraught and personally exhausting. I am glad I was able to do it, but the task itself was a bit daunting. Learning and rehearsing new music, driving the 12 hours down to SC, rehearsing that music with the other people involved, participating in the service itself, the obligatory (and helpful, if tiring) social gathering afterwards, followed by the long trip back; yeah, pretty draining! Having had way too many “slowdowns on I-81” had put me on edge. More than once, I just shouted to the Universe in frustration, “I am getting too old for this!”…or something to that effect! At any rate, I was probably about 3 hours from home, tooling along on “lovely” 81, when I finally did what I should have been doing all along…I looked up. No, I wasn’t driving with my head in the floorboard, but I was in full bore “tunnel vision” mode…eyes on the proverbial prize…laser focused on getting home and sitting in my chair! But then, I looked up. I looked up and saw the fall foliage beginning to turn. I looked up and beheld the emerging reds and oranges and browns of autumn, hands down my favorite time of year! I breathed out a bit, and the clinched ball of anxious energy in my stomach decompressed a bit more. I’ve never been all that outdoorsy a person, but the beauty of God’s creation in the crisp autumn air has always been healing and restorative for me. Everything about this time of year brings a sense of contentment that is truly refreshing. Halloween and Thanksgiving. The infectious energy of kids Trick or Treating. Cider, turkey, cranberries, and sweet potato pie! Heck, I even love candy corn and pumpkin spice…not to put too fine a point on it! 😉
God, in His wisdom and generosity, provides us these times of refreshment. Granted, yours may be different from mine, but when we pause for a moment, take our eyes off the road, and acknowledge the wonder of Creation, we find that they are there waiting for us to claim them. A friend of mine posted an unknown quote that read, “Burnout exists because we’ve made rest a reward, rather than a right.” Amen! God doesn’t desire stressed out, exhausted, and generally cranky disciples. The tasks of ministry can be daunting enough sometimes, but God wants us to embrace the model He Himself followed in those opening chapters of Genesis. I’ve often wondered why an omnipotent God needed to rest at all following Creation. I think maybe God was showing us that rest in itself is Godly. Maybe you find that rest in a peaceful moment, as I tend to in autumn. Maybe it’s in a hobby or other interest. Whatever it is, embrace it! God has reached out to all of us and reminds us that our well-being is important to Him. During this season of Thanksgiving, let us re-devote ourselves to bearing each other’s burdens, and finding Holy Refreshment for the months ahead.
May the God of Peace increase our joy and continue to grant us opportunities to slow down and recharge.
Let us pray…
God of wholeness, we thank you for the gift of Creation and our part in it. As the days grow colder, may our hearts still continue to burn bright with love for you and all of our brothers and sisters. Help us to support one another, that we all may be continually strengthened for ministry and service. We ask these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Be well, be kind, and be safe!
Pastor Wes Poole †