Sacred Deprivation

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When it comes to finding rest in God, Christ is our perfect example.

The Sunday following Thanksgiving, I stood in my kitchen in a daze. My holiday was a blur of travel, chores, and obligation. Between three Thanksgiving feasts in three different locations there was little time left to savor, connect, or give thanks. The Sunday after Thanksgiving followed the same theme. Rush to church. Scurry through Sunday school. Recite my to-do list during the service.

It left me all with a feeling all too familiar: exhaustion. Lately, no matter how often I go to bed early or how many naps I take, I can’t seem to shake my weariness.

It was in that exhausted state that I had an epiphany. I’m not tired from a lack of sleep. I’m tired from a lack of the sacred.

The dictionary defines sacred as being set apart for the service or worship of God. My thesaurus says that the synonym of "sacred" is "untouchable.”

I’ve come to the conclusion that my exhaustion stems from my failure to find pockets of time to worship my God. There is no part of my day that is untouchable to the demands of everyday life. Holidays are not set apart as a day to worship. All too often, neither is the Sabbath. Without regular moments of sacred, life starts to whiz by at an unbearable pace.

Are you amen-ing your computer screen? Are you also suffering from sacred deprivation? The world isn’t going to stop spinning. The demands of work and family aren’t going to suddenly cease. So, how can we sow in sacred time? As in all things, the answer is found in Jesus.

I don’t believe that Jesus’ life was any less hectic than yours or mine. He had a job that was time and labor intensive. He had to balance the demands of ministry with maintaining relationships with friends and family just like we do. And yet, He managed to maintain a sacred rhythm. How did He do it? Here are some specifics.

Jesus spent time alone.

In Matthew 13:1 we find Jesus sitting alone by a lake. In Matthew 15:29 He is sitting alone on the side of a mountain. In Matthew 14:13 He took a boat to a private place.

Matthew 14:22 says, “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up to a mountainside by himself to pray.”

Being alone wasn’t easy for Jesus. Crowds follow Him everywhere He went. Yet, over and over throughout the Gospels we find Him making the effort to be by himself, sometimes only for a brief moment. I don’t think it was because He was a loner. It seems He was setting apart time for the sacred.

Jesus took walks.

The Gospels frequently record Jesus walking. I realize that He lived long before the era of planes, trains, and automobiles, but it’s worth noting that He wasn’t always walking from point A to point B. Sometimes He was walking beside a lake or sea (Matthew 4:18). Sometimes He was walking through a field (Matthew 12:21). I doubt He wore a pedometer or considered these walks necessary for exercise. I think He was creating time untouchable by the demands of life.

Jesus prayed.

In Matthew 26:36 we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was the night He was going to be arrested and He knew it. He surely had a long to-do list. But He didn’t spend that evening scurrying from place to place. He didn’t spend time doing things to prepare his disciples for what was to come. He retreated to a garden and prayed.

Until I sat down to write this post, I’d never considered the wonder of this truth. Jesus is God. He and His Father are one, and yet He set apart time to talk specifically with God at the brink of His most desperate season. Instead of running toward exertion, He ran toward the sacred. 

Jesus made time for friends.

We often find Jesus dining with His disciples, reclining in the houses of followers, or fishing with his friends. There’s no need to over-spiritualize this one. When we make time to simply be with the people who love us, it helps create sacred space.

How would your life change if you simply implemented these four habits? Would your weariness wane if you simply walked, prayed, spent time alone, and made time for friends on a more regular basis? I’m going to follow Jesus’ lead this week and find out. Will you?

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly" (Matthew 11:28–30, The Message).

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