It was a refreshing evening, filled with quiet murmurs and soft laughter pouring forth from chatting friends. We were sitting around the table having deep conversations on the side, making sure to eat the savory meal before us. The cozy fall night settled outside and the warmth from the table gently relaxed our dinner party. There was a simple, collective exhale as she began to tell us her story.
Earlier in the night she was introduced to us by her close friend as a truth teller. As she began to tell us the story of her book and how she came into the fullness of Sabbath, I saw truth subtly beaming from her, calling those who would listen to go deeper with her. Deeper into what God has for us.
I remember sitting there thinking if I told her I gobbled up her book in one weekend, then I might sound like a crazy fangirl. But Shelly doesn’t need that kind of praise. It’s not really about her. It’s about the Holy Spirit’s work through her and provoking her readers to know God more.
And that night, I was provoked.
We talk a lot around here about turning down the noise of this world, about turning our eyes to Christ instead of our phones. That night when I met Shelly Miller, over a few years ago, I realized God was speaking to me about Sabbath and the way he would restore my marriage because of it.
A few years ago, I felt like my marriage was shifting into an unhealthy comfortableness. Not the kind when you can look across the room and smile, signaling to your spouse amongst the crowd you are ready to go. Not the kind that brings a knowing calm to your relationship.
No, it was the kind of calm that comes before the brewing storm when you look out your window and see darkness in the distance, warning you to take shelter.
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Husband and I were going through a phase of robotic intimacy that left me feeling like I was living with a roommate instead of my husband. So I did what many of us do when things feel off in our marriage: I Googled.
I found some ideas from Christian writers that seemed like a good fix.
But over time, that same feeling came back and looking for how to fix things wasn’t working. I wanted to know why things kept coming back to the same rut.
I began a quest, if you will, on why I was experiencing some of the unsatisfied feelings I had in my marriage. I wanted to know why my husband wasn’t enough. I wanted to know why I still felt like my past was controlling my present.
A few months into my journey, summer turned into fall, and I got a copy of Shelly’s book in my hands. Not long after, I got the opportunity to meet her while she was on her book tour. A mutual friend of ours hosted a dinner for Shelly and invited a few of us to come meet her.
I could sit here and talk about almost all the chapters and how God used them to minister to me, but there is one chapter that stood out the most. The chapter titled “Uncertainty: Rest and Love Are Connected” pierced straight to my heart and became the turning point on my path to finding restoration for my marriage and releasing the control I was so desperately holding onto.
Shelly’s words reached into my heart and slowly pried off my controlling grasp.
She said, “Is your gut warning you to slow down and you’re avoiding it because of the fear of what might happen? Can I encourage you to let go and fill up with the peace of God’s goodness? He’s patiently waiting for you to slow down so he can express his love for you” (p 149 Rhythms of Rest).
“Sabbath isn’t about resting in order to be more productive. It isn’t about me at all” (Rhythms of Rest).
I knew then and there I was avoiding the Holy Spirit. I had been keeping myself busy and succumbing to the unending demands of this busy life as a shield from the truth. Google became my ally while God’s word became Plan B.
Shelly’s book was an invitation for me to soften my heart against all the hard absolutes I had built around my marriage. She extended encouragement to me in a way I had not anticipated.
Who would have thought spending more time with God would actually heal my heart? I know. It’s a real novice thought.
Sabbath isn’t about rules and regulations. It’s not about finding liturgical light in your daily routines so you’ll add more worth to your value in heaven.
Sabbath is an invitation to lay your worldly-filled heart down in exchange for God’s abundant-filled hand to hold you on your journey.
Sabbath came alongside me and whispered truth during a time when Google shouted otherwise.
It became an integral part of restoration, woven into fabric of healing when my heart needed it most. Who knows how I would have released control over my fears if not for the Sabbath moments I spent handing pieces of my brokenness to the Lord, only to find him restoring each piece, little by little.
“Sabbath isn’t about resting perfectly; it’s about resting in the One who is perfect” (Rhythms of Rest).
I thought Sabbath was just for people who felt overwhelmed from all the busy. I wasn’t quite sure if it was right for me. As soon as I started reading Shelly’s book, I learned I couldn’t put a label on Sabbath.
I saw prejudices and assumptions crumble to the ground as Shelly said “Sabbath isn’t about resting perfectly; it’s about resting in the One who is perfect.”
She opened my eyes when she taught me why people Sabbath versus howthey Sabbath. She quietly nudged me along when she said “Sabbath isn’t about resting in order to be more productive. It isn’t about me at all.”
If there were only a few books I could recommend in helping you find real rest, no real restoration and real focus on Christ, I’d recommend Shelly’s book. I have re-read her book three times now and come back to it often for bits and pieces.
Not only has her book reshaped my thinking on rest and Sabbath, her book shed a light in my marriage when I felt darkness.
Rhythms of Rest was living water for me in my marriage when I kept reaching for the cup of this world, only left thirsting for something more. I’m not thirsty anymore.
Next week we will be having a giveaway of Shelly’s book Rhythms of Rest Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. We’ll be giving away a copy of her book and a copy of Utmost Ongoing (Shelly’s in that one too!), and a beautiful hand-lettered sign with a powerful quote from Shelly’s book.
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