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P1070297Book review: The Rest of God, Restoring your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan. Thomas Nelson, 2007.

I saw this book favorably quoted in another book, and it piqued my interest. Thus I was pleased when I saw it at the public library. However, you can see “the problem” with library books – you can’t highlight and underline and instead I had to fill it with sticky tabs and took notes on a paper.

This book is probably not what you think it is. It is not primarily about keeping the 4th commandment in the traditional sense. There is one chapter that does focus on the 4th commandment, but most of the book is about having a sabbath frame of mind. It is not about a specific day or any length of time for that matter, but an altering of our attitude or approach to life. A sabbath heart sanctifies time and learns to value God’s gift of rest. Busyness robs us. I appreciated the book and recommend it to you. Now I’ll share some notes I took on parts of the book, and I hope they mostly make sense.

  • You can be busy but slothful! Unable to rest, you can keep busy by wasting time with non-productive actions. We can also be in a hurry all the time and wrongly perceive we are saving time by our hurry. But are we? We can miss or overlook important things in our rush. We may actually be throwing time away. “Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing…” (page 45)
  • Before we appreciate God’s gift of rest, we need to appreciate the gift of work. Too often we just complain about our work, but it should be seen as a way to honor God. Martin Luther is known for stating: “…The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes…” Any job, no matter how menial, can be a gift of God, through God, and to God.
  • A great obstacle to true sabbath keeping is leisure! We don’t value work, and can have a “waiting for the weekend” mentality. We can feel a pressure to make the leisure count. Leisure is what sabbath becomes when we don’t sanctify time. The leisure can become despotic, enslaving us, even demanding more from us than it gives. We are not resting, but rather being further drained.
  • Are you “rested” enough or getting proper sabbath? Ask yourself: How much do I care about the things I care about? When we stop caring for what matters, it is a sign we are too busy. We are consumed by things that feed the ego, but starve the soul. Busyness  robs us of knowing God the way we might.
  • Being “purpose driven” is popular, but we should be uneasy about pairing purposefulness and drivenness. Driven people can forget their purpose. The reason they started something erodes away under the weight of striving for it. There is a difference between living on purpose and being driven, and this can be seen in how we perceive time. Driven people are time managers – in an excessive way – hoarding it. Being purposeful requires time management too, but not in a rigid way. We should value time, but not hoard it. Are we available? We need time in our life for interruptions. Think of the moments of your life that have shaped you most deeply. How many were planned? How many were unexpected? God’s purposes and his presence often come disguised as detours. Quote: “The Devil distracts. God interrupts. And for some reason, we fall prey to the one and grow oblivious to the other.” (page 130)
  • As Christians, we are heirs of eternity. We are not short of days! We just need to number them right (Psalm 90:12). Each day is a day that the Lord has made. We need to live in light of eternity – We need a compelling vision of things unseen. Seen from the perspective of eternity, many big problems scale down to proper size! In sabbath or in practicing the rest of God now, we prepare for the fulness of God one day in eternity. We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:26-29) and will enter our eternal rest (Hebrews 4:8-9,11).
  • The Ten Commandments are shared in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, and the author notices a different emphasis regarding sabbath.  Exodus grounds sabbath in creation. It is a return to Eden. Deuteronomy grounds it in liberation – their freedom from slavery in Egypt. Slaves do not rest nor have the freedom to rest. Rest is a condition of liberty.
  • While we can be too busy to observe sabbath or times of rest (as the book has mostly emphasized), legalism can become a problem when we do observe it. Remember how Jesus clashed with the Pharisees over sabbath keeping. They (and we) can impose our own rules. But what is “work” to one person may be enjoyable and restful to another! Sabbath keeping is more art than science, more poetry than arithmetic. Cease from what is necessary, and embrace what gives you life! Rest will look a bit different in each of our lives.

Well, I actually have a few more notes from the book which I may share in another post, but I hope those give you a good feel for the book. Again, I highly recommend it to you.

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