Blog Tour: "Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity"

I was so excited when the opportunity arose to review Keri Wyatt Kent's new book, Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity. First, free books are always a wonderful thing. :) And second, but more important, the issue of honoring the Sabbath is one with which I've struggled for a long time, and one which has been increasingly on my mind in in my heart in the past few months. For our family, Sabbath-keeping involves goals such as these:

Corporate worship with our church family is priority.

We don't take on outside commitments (other than church) that require regular Sunday participation.

We keep Sunday shopping to a minimum.

Our Sundays are often far from restful, however...and at times even when they are restful and relaxing, I wonder if they truly qualify as "honoring the Sabbath":

There are times (such as the last couple of months, when we have been preparing for Family Camp and VBS :)) when church activities seem to run us ragged, even on Sundays.

While I rarely shop on Sunday, stopping by the grocery store on the way home from church ends up being a necessity some weeks. I steer clear of the mall and other retail spots...most of the time. But one of the most restful, refreshing Sundays I've had in a long time involved a fun afternoon trip with a friend to a craft store...I came home energized, motivated, and feeling creative inspiration I hadn't felt in a long time.

Our "no outside commitments other than church" policy for Sundays is definitely a good thing for our family...but lately I've wondered if our *quiet* Sunday afternoons with everyone following their own pursuits leave something to be desired.

I have to admit that after my initial excitement about reading Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity, within the first few pages, I was a tiny bit put off. Kent mentions early on that her daughter's soccer team periodically plays on Sunday. I shoved down the little Pharisaical voice inside saying, "What on earth is someone whose child plays soccer on Sunday doing writing a book about Sabbath rest??" and continued reading. I'm glad I did.

Kent doesn't offer pat answers or a list of "dos and don'ts". Instead, as she shares honestly her journey toward a life of Sabbath Simplicity, she encourages us to take heed of the Biblical mandate to set aside a Day of Rest, and to explore how God would have us and our families live that out.

Rather than getting hung up on "Which day should one observe, Saturday or Sunday?" (although she does give a brief Biblical and historical argument for the Lord's Day observance on Sunday), Kent lays out a basis for a day set apart from the normal routine and ideas for making it meaningful and workable in our fast-paced modern world.

I could well relate to her introduction to the second chapter, where she describes herself as "a bit of a restless soul". "The illusion I labor under is that when things really get going or finally settle down, I'll be able to focus on what matters. I'll be content. I'll live a simple and serene life." She then describes the trap I think many of us fall into..."running like crazy but getting just about nowhere" in the pursuit of contentment and serenity...making more lists, doing more tasks, working more hours, when what we really need to do is STOP.

She offers that as the only "rule" for Sabbath rest..."just stop". Further than that, she offers not rules, but "guidelines for stopping" as she invites us to "consider receiving the gift of God's rest." I especially appreciated her discussion of the body's need to alternate periods of being "fully engaged" with periods of being "fully at rest". It provided food for thought on the issue of God's promise of "rest" and a "light yoke" and "easy burden", versus the physical, mental, and emotional sacrifices we often seem called to in following Him. Is part of the burn-out so many of us experience directly related to the lack of true Sabbath rest in our lives? Is there a way to reconcile that in the modern world? Kent says that there is.

I was a little concerned that a book on "keeping the Sabbath" might lead to feeling a bit overwhelmed or guilty at what I "should" be doing. Instead, I was inspired and motivated with changes I can make...some immediate and some more gradual...to make our Sundays more restful and more God-honoring, without being legalistic or just plain lazy. I also became aware...again...that celebrating and honoring the Sabbath doesn't just involve a single day in the week. It involves a change in our hearts and attitudes to give Him *all* of our time in order that we can accept the gift of rest He offers.

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity, by Keri Wyatt Kent, is publised by Zondervan and available at Amazon. For links to others on this week's blog tour, visit The Blog Tour Spot.

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