Lenten Devotional – March 7, 2023

Tuesday, March 7, 2023
The Deeply Formed Life by Rich Villodas
Lenten Devotional by Cheryl Mahon

In the second chapter of The Deeply Formed Life, Villodas shares four practices of contemplative rhythms. One practice he teaches is sabbath keeping.

Although I usually get eight hours of sleep, I don’t always feel rested. Villodas states that keeping the sabbath results in deep rest and renewal. In our modern culture, we tend to not get enough sleep, we are bombarded with ceaseless information that we have no time to absorb or process, and we have little margin in our day to be with God. So, we suffer with fatigue of the body, fatigue of the mind, and fatigue of the soul.

I remember hearing “work hard, play hard” when I was growing up. I interpreted this as meaning you can play, or rest, after you’ve done your work. This led me to believe that sabbath is a reward for hard work. If there is still more work to do and I’m not yet exhausted, I don’t deserve a sabbath yet, right? Wrong! There is always more work to be done. Just like grace, you don’t earn favor for sabbath.

Villodas writes, “Sabbath is not just rest from making things. It’s rest from the need to make something of ourselves.” Why do we have this need to make something of ourselves? We need to recognize when Satan is slanting thoughts in our mind. We spend most of our lives trying to become something, to prove that we matter. This is exhausting and the beauty is we were made in God’s image!

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my  mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. – Psalm 139:13-14

I challenge you to set aside a twenty-four-hour period this week to keep the sabbath. It doesn’t have to be on Sunday. I work on Sundays, so that wouldn’t work for me and my family. Put down your technology. Spend time with God, family, and friends. If it constitutes work, let it go. Rest, play, and do things that bring you joy. Decide on when you’d like to start and set an alarm. When the alarm goes off, pretend that you are on the British baking show and put your hands up in the air. No, you can’t read that last email. Stop whatever you are doing and start your twenty-four-hour period of unhurried delight. As Villodas says, “The contemplative life is about slowing down our pace to create space for God to transform us by His grace.”

Lord, I know I have nothing to prove to you. I am fearfully and wonderfully made in your image. I know that spending time with you, resting with you, abiding in you will give me rest and strength for the work you need me to do. Help me to prioritize time with you each week for rest and renewal. Amen.

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