Book Review – Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller
Author Shelly Miller was recently introduced to me through reading a favorite blog. Her experience with Sabbath intrigued me to find out more. Here at Spiritual Life Development, we have been working diligently on the Sabbath Series, so this book seemed perfect for my contribution. What I didn’t expect was to find such value for my personal life. Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World, by Shelly Miller not only discusses her personal Sabbath habits, but also challenged me to find a personal rhythm in my everyday life to celebrate Jesus and spend time with him. It’s His gift to invite us into one-on-one time. Her unique perspective on how she established Sabbath in her life is interesting because she knows firsthand how ministry can be overwhelming, cause burn out, and leave little time for personal reflection. She also shares honestly about the struggles and experiences of personal frustrations and how Sabbath worked in those times. She provides ideas to help in the right direction of Sabbath. A few of her ideas include, “creating whitespace by carving out a time period for rest that becomes a weekly rhythm. A small window of space cultivates a Sabbath heart.” Other ideas like, turning off electronics (yes, you read that correctly), and celebrating the goodness of God while doing something you enjoy.
“Sabbath is a weekly dinner date with Jesus, a time set apart when we give him our undivided attention.”
When it’s put that way, how can I not show up for a dinner date with Jesus? He welcomes me to the table to sit, and enjoy his company. We all have hectic schedules and chaotic days. We can all feel overwhelmed, but I see there is an answer to stopping that messy life- I have to be present with God. I know that right now I can’t commit a full day each week to Sabbath, but I can carve out time during the day. If it means being present with God on the commute to work, reflecting on devotions earlier in the day, sitting on the porch for a few minutes and giving thanks for all that is around me. Those rhythms of rest can start anywhere and each of those moments of intentional presence with God are precious. They are a gift. Shelly asks the question, “will you let fear of the unknown and the need for certainty keep you from rest? Or will you push past “self” vying for first place and trust him with your time, regardless of the outcome?” I paused with this question, because there can be an initial sense of guilt with taking rest. There is always so much that needs to get done, it can be hard to justify the carving out of regular quiet time, it might even seem selfish. But, guess what? In order for me to be the best I can be in God, and do the best I can do with God, there needs to be dedicated time for God. The Sabbath is in invitation to sit and rest with Him. Is there any better invitation before us?
“Sabbath is waiting for Christ to come into our everyday, messy, uncomfortable life and making sense of it all because he loves us.”
Shelly writes a blog called Sabbath Society. She writes about her own Sabbath and presents questions for discussion among the blog readers. There are free printable resources that provide moments of rest each day. She openly welcomes conversation and she has graciously written back to me. If you are interested in checking out her site it’s, shellymillerwriter.com. I recommend this book to anyone who is weary, worn-out, or wants to find a way to bring Sabbath into your life. It’s not an instruction book, but it’s a personal, reflective, encourages seeking Sabbath, and creating practices of rest in your life.
Written By Joanna Polarek, Resource Coordinator for the Spiritual Life Development Department