Love in the triune God is open, connecting, freeing, playful, painful, transforming. Its two faces are labor and rest, ministry and sabbath. Such love is the fulfillment of all the commandments. For this we are born. Yet this love does not come easily. We are an open Dr. Jekyll who lives with a Mr. Hyde ever lurking to twist the freedom of that love into a closed, calculating fist of evil, delusion, and separation. We live internally divided in this way. Our social situations mirror this personal split. Our life in Christ is a struggle and a plea to reconcile in God the split-off beast within and without and let its energies be transformed by the river of grace that flows through all that is.
Our bodies reflect this struggle too. Their healing, cleansing, enlivening energy channels become blocked in places, and clenching pain, disease, and distortion follow. There is so much in and around us that drives them closed. Thus we must return again and again to various treatments for their opening. Our love in Christ is like this. We yearn for a new and stabilized level of its flow through and around us, yet we find it blocked again and again. Our spiritual practices, underlain by gifted faith and desire for God’s fullness, are the treatments with which we are endowed to open us to Love’s flow again and again. A rhythm of sabbath and ministry time is a foundational discipline, a framework for all our disciplines. It is a rhythm that God provides to human life for its care, cleansing, and opening to grace. This rhythm is not for one day or one week or one year only. It is for life. Broken human beings cannot expect God’s wise love to hold in our awareness once and for all. The rhythm, as a permanent discipline, symbolizes this reality. We can pray that over the years it will help us appreciate Holy Love’s desire to touch those cramped places of dammed-up spiritual energy in our lives and release us for ever deeper, wiser, steadier, and bolder praise and ministry. | Sabbath and ministry are united by a single-hearted desire for this knowing love to live through us, in all that we are and do, and indeed to live through all creation. In graced time, this rest and labor of love mingle with ever greater intimacy, and a sabbath heart lives in us through all our labors.
In one single moment and at the same time, love labors and rests in its beloved. And the one is strengthened by the other: for the loftier the love, the greater is the rest, and the greater is the rest, the closer is the love; for the one lives in the other.2[Jesus said] “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me. . . . For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
My times are in your hand.