Shepherding through Rest and Play

Bill WalkerCliffNotes, Frontpage News

Today’s guest post is by Bill Walker, Director of Vocation.

Something the staff has been focusing on together this summer is the spiritual discipline of rest and play. We’re still working, of course 🙂 But we’re also making intentional efforts to incorporate and develop rhythms of Sabbath, recreation and fun where they’ve maybe been absent. For many of us, this can be quite difficult!

There are a number of reasons why this might be hard. For me, I think it’s come down to fear. Fear is one of the emotions we’re looking at in the Psalms sermon series this month. When it comes to rest and play, I tend to resist it because I’m afraid of not being significant, of not getting everything done, of disappointing people, or maybe just of not having all my needs met. I’m afraid of losing control of my life! If I’m resting or playing, doesn’t this mean that the most important work is being neglected?

At the root of this fear is a lie about who I really am. I am more than what I do, I am a beloved child of God, and my identity does not consist in my accomplishments. Paradoxically, I am also less than I think I am. I’m not that important. And if I’m not rooted and centered in my dependence on Christ as the “vine” of my life (John 15), I can do nothing. That is to say, apart from allowing the Lord to be my Shepherd (Psalm 23), I can do nothing that will last or matter.

And yet, God has called us to do much – much that is good and enduring.

Fear can be terribly destructive, but not all fear is bad. One of the healthy fears I’ve acquired since becoming a dad is the fear of missing out on time with my kids while they’re young – time at home, time playing with them, and time set aside for rest and Sabbath together. Now, as any parent knows, this time isn’t always very restful, but I suppose not all rest is relaxing. Maybe sometimes rest is found in the simple practice of remaining present to the people right in front of us and in our community.

One of the primary vocations in my life is to be a husband and a dad. Often for Whitney and I this requires subordinating some of our other callings and ambitions for the sake of our family – because this vocation is higher right now. For those who are single, widowed, married without children or who have children that are grown, rest and sabbath are just as necessary, and God’s calling and commissioning is no less operative. God uses rest and play to sustain and shepherd the work of whatever we’re called to do in a given season. Without it, we can’t live the life God has for us.

I pray you all are finding time to rest and play this summer, no matter your season and calling. I am trying to do the same. I look forward to seeing many of you this Sunday.

Grace and Peace,