It’s been a long, hard year. Many of us, when holidays were cancelled, plunged ourselves into work to distract ourselves from the monotony of life. But as that familiar walk begins to feel like the prison yard, we all know how much we needed a break from routine. And now Tier Four. Stuck.
Tempting as it is to just keep on working, God has created us to rest. God made the world in six days, he rested on the seventh day. The principle is firmly established throughout the Bible that we were created to work and rest.
"Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed." - Exodus 23:12
But how do we rest, when we can’t leave home? This is a very real question for me right now. Tempting as it is to sleep in, relocate to the sofa in your pyjamas, watch Netflix, eat, repeat, I’d like to suggest that we rest in a way that refreshes and re-energises us.
It strikes me from the Bible that preparation is a key part of sabbath rest. Planning what you will do, getting things ready so that you can rest, organising your rest. The Bible teaches that this refreshment is for both our bodies and our souls. So plan how you might use your time so it includes time with God, times of friendship and fun.
This might mean ordering that book you’ve wanted to read, looking at the year’s top 50 films, choosing a couple you want to watch and renting them (yes what a liberating thought, I could choose rather than simply watch what’s free on Amazon Prime!)
This might mean planning to sleep more. But it could also mean deciding when (ish) to get up, making sure you get dressed and do something outdoors. Even during our lockdown 1.0 holiday at home, we got into a pattern of a morning Bible time, prayer and walk or run. We felt immediately better for it, and at the end of the week actually pretty pleased with ourselves!
This will mean planning some time with God. Phil and Vicki are amazing at this, regularly giving each other the time to take a half day with God, or even a full day or 24h. They take a Bible, book, journal and find a quiet comfortable space to deeply explore a book, or subject, make notes about it and pray.
When we first moved to London, we used to Airbnb our flat (rent it out while we were away), and a trick I discovered in the first lockdown was to Airbnb our flat…ready for ourselves! Including a welcome basket filled with our favourite treats. For me this means moving furniture around, cleaning out the fridge, dusting away cobwebs and digging out the best bedding and towels (you could even treat yourself to a new set!) Being in a space where there are no jobs that need doing is part of the joy of holiday for me.
It can be really helpful to look back at your most refreshing holidays. I was surprised to realise my trip to visit my missionary brother in Central Asia in midwinter was one of the most refreshing. Why? It was helpful to realise that it was because it involved risk, adventure, I saw how God was at work through the gospel, I tried different dishes. Realising what makes a good holiday for me helps me to build some of those elements into holidaying at home. Challenging myself to achieve something that feels nearly impossible (a long cycle ride), reading a biography to see the gospel at work around the world, finding a new street food market, exploring a different part of London.
Like a web page that is unresponsive and really slow, we need to be refreshed. Refreshed in our body and in our soul. Let’s plan to rest this Christmas in a way that is truly refreshing.