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Spiritual Training Cycle: Presence (wk. 8/13)

Tabata. I remember the first time I heard that word. I was like, “huh?” Tabata is an interval workout designed by, you guessed it, Dr. Izumi Tabata. Well, you probably didn’t guess the whole Izumi thing, but now you know. Dr. Tabata did research that showed short bursts of high intensity work followed by brief recovery delivered some serious fitness. And all in about four minutes. As this style of interval became popular so did a number of Tabata timers in app stores across mobile devices. Being the tip of the spear guy I am, I quickly downloaded a Tabata timer app and prepared to get after it. The timer came with a voice prompt and the first word I heard was, “work.” So, I did. For only 20 seconds. But what a brutal 20 seconds it was. As the lactic acid accumulated and the oxygen thinned, I waited for what seemed an eternity. Then the timer spoke to me again with another word, “rest.”

The holidays may feel like the worst time of the year to implement some rest. Like starting a clean eating program on Thanksgiving. The holidays bring a myriad of new load to the table such as travel, family gatherings, parties, gifts to purchase, travel again, home decorating, more family gatherings, tree purchasing, one more party, last minute gifts, and the load goes on. But in reality now is the absolute best time to find some new ways to rest. Because quality rest leads to quality restoration.

I’m not talking about sleep and I’m not really talking about naps. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of both. I’m talking about micro-rest, short moments of stillness that can be interspersed throughout your day. Think about those intervals you do in the gym or at home. Maybe you go hard for a minute, then take 30 seconds off. During the rest, your heart rate begins to come down, you mentally prepare for another round, which allows you to attack the next effort with more intensity. Micro-rest helps you get more work out of the workout!

That’s why we need rest this season – we need stillness. We define stillness as a quiet body, a slow mind, an open spirit, and a focus on God. Stillness is the absence of movement. This spiritual exercise has been used for thousands of years to create space to connect with God. Think of each day like its own interval workout. If you want to get the most out of your day, use moments of stillness to rest in God. Some of you need to read a few Bible verses before the in-laws arrive. Others of you need to pray to give your kids grace when they burn the rolls while trying to be helpful. And all of us need some micro-rest in God to remember the good things He’s done in our lives and to be filled with thanksgiving.

Spiritual rest leads to spiritual restoration.

Spiritual rest leads to spiritual restoration. You’ll find it in the still moments with God. I encourage you to savor all the joy this season has to offer. Even though your daily intervals may feel like more than you can handle, with stillness you’ll find the work is worth it. Let your soul find rest in God and let your hope come from Him.

Questions for Reflection:

What stresses you out most during the holidays?

How does resting in God change the feel of that stress?

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