The Rest of God
Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2006
Number of pages: 225
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been thinking and talking about missionary furlough. We’ve been asking ourselves questions like, “What does ‘furlough’ mean?” and “How do we communicate about ‘furlough’ to supporters?” and “What do sending churches need to be prepared for as missionaries come home for a season?”
While putting together the podcast that will publish next Tuesday, Mark Buchanan’s book, The Rest of God, came up in conversation. Over the past decade, this book has become very popular and thought provoking, but it probably could and should be more popular than it is.
One of the main concepts unpacked in this book is, once again, one we don’t take the time to think about. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath” (NLT). The word “Sabbath,” since it isn’t a normal part of our language outside of a religious setting, gets treated like a religious practice. Buchanan does an amazing job of bringing this “religious” idea into our regular lives. That doesn’t mean it’s easily implemented, we’re too busy! He makes the case that it is in our best interest and the interests of the mission God has for our lives, to implement as soon as possible. All the other ASAP demands need to take the back seat until Sabbath becomes our new normal.
A podcast we posted recently focuses on these six concepts: reconnect, renewal, retrain, raise, remind, and refocus. Buchanan causes readers to think through pausing and assessing: “Quiet yourself. Reflect on the day. When were you most alive? What were you doing then, thinking, saying, seeing? When were you most empty? What was going on at that moment? When did it seem God was close, and when did he seem he was far away? Practice that each day.”
While at rest, take a personal inventory. Think through what adjustments need to be made in your life and mission.
One of Buchanan’s main points is: “A well-kept Sabbath is a dress rehearsal for things above. In finding the rest of God now, we prepare for the fullness of God one day. In Sabbath, we anticipate forever.”
“Faith,” the writer of Hebrews says, “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is clarity about that. It is a tenacious conviction that this world is not enough and was never intended to be. It is a steadfast refusal to seek ultimate things — ultimate understanding — where God has not laid them. Not one ultimate thing is stored down here.
Buchanan makes a compelling argument and supports his thesis well. Fans of Buchanan’s other books, Your God is Too Safe, Spiritual Rhythm, and Things Unseen, to name a few, will enjoy Buchanan’s exploration and explanation of Sabbath.
The idea of Sabbath and Furlough go hand-in-hand in the lives of missionaries. Both are a necessary part of living a healthy life and staying on task in the mission God has called you to. God’s rest is provided for us to revive, rejuvenate, and give up control. If you want to get better at these things, read this book.