“unpacking” leisure

A couple days ago, August 5th to be exact, I mentioned that I had “escaped” from my family while on vacation, long enough to write my blog. Because I had already decided what to write about that day, I didn’t use the very cool topic that jumped out at me when I read the entries in TWO of my readings for that date. The time has come 🙂 . When I was reading Oswald Chambers, the last phrase held a word that seemed to be what God was pointing out to my heart. The word was “leisureliness”. That word felt soothing to me. It was a wonderful word, just begging to be looked up in the dictionary for further exploration. As you may have guessed by now, I, of course, went to my other daily reading for August 5th to see if it corresponded; and of all the entries on all the possible dates in a year, the author of THAT book, in her mere 13 lines, used the word “leisure”.

So, as one of my favorite teachers always says, “let’s unpack this.” In order to get a mental picture of what “leisure” looks like, I decided to look up “leisure suit.”…and now that my eyes have recovered from that visual aid, we can move on to the actual meaning of the word. Leisure is defined as: “unhurried ease (I knew there was a reason that word soothed my spirit); time free from the demands of work or duty; when one can rest.” It’s so much more than taking a vacation.

We are currently driving home from a beach vacation where I “rested” all day every day, and guess what? I still long for “leisure.” It’s about resting inside, not just outside. It means resting in God’s plan for me, both in the next few minutes and the next few years. Oswald Chambers used this word to say the following: “A Christian is one who trusts in the wits and wisdom of God, not in his own wits. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and leisureliness which ought to characterized the children of God.” Oh, how I want that to define me. One who trusts God’s purposes. When I live with “unhurried ease” i am able to relax and quit the constant striving and trying to “figure things out.”

Sarah Young, the other author, uses the Psalms to encourage us to make our minds “still like a pool of water” and to rest in God’s sufficiency. She points out that “a leisurely pace accomplishes more than hurried striving.” Boy, have I spent a good amount of time striving. For years, most of my life actually, I spent large amounts of energy madly trying to “figure out” what God wanted me to do. I just knew it had to be big and important and probably hard. I prayed and studied and searched out advice from various men and women I respected. I read book after book about “spiritual growth” and leadership gifts and spiritual gifts. In the end, guess where all of that got me? Super-tired. it always required “doing” something. Working harder. I was exhausted on every level.

It’s not that those activities were entirely a waste of time, but they were not the “final answer.” It wasn’t until I lost control of my life, or ADMITTED that I never had control of my life, that I was able to truly receive and embrace God’s gift of care; His gift of allowing me to live at a leisurely pace, depending on HIM to show me HIS purposes for my life. It’s almost as if all those verses (about not worrying, not being anxious, trusting God with our moments and our future plans and our money and our kids, spouses, jobs and pleasures) are TRUE. It seems so simplistic and naïve.

In the past (the not-so-distant past) I have re-interpreted the bible to fit the American Dream: pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, God helps those who help themselves, God doesn’t moved parked cars–crap like that. The bible does not teach that. America teaches that. God teaches us to give our actual lives and all that comes with that life, over to HIS CARE.

I long for the “simplicity and leisureliness that characterizes the children of God.” You?

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