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Learning to Pause

An Axis Course On Advent and Your Family

When someone asks you, “How are you?” or “How’s it going?” what’s your go-to response? Is there some sort of mention of how busy you’ve been lately? If so, you’re not alone! We can get so caught up in to-do lists, completing tasks, and meeting deadlines that days, even weeks go by before we remember to look up. This can lead to stress, anxiety, despair, and disconnection from loved ones, as well as an inability to see how God is at work around us.

If this rings true for you and your family, that’s okay. It just means it might be time to turn your faces toward Christ and allow Him to reorient your hearts.

The Psalms remind us to “be still, and know that [He is] God.” The simple act of pausing helps us to focus on what God is doing, rather than on our own efforts, as well as to remember that He is God. He is infinite, Holy, omniscient, omnipotent, and unconditionally loving—to put it bluntly, He’s got this! We don’t need to try to do everything for Him.

So sometimes we just need to hit the pause button. To help you do that, this Saturday we’ll invite you into the ancient and largely forgotten rhythm of Sabbath. It’s one of the Ten Commandments, Jesus Himself modeled it, and the author of Hebrews makes a clear case for how vital this practice is to our souls’ wellbeing. Sabbath, or shabbat, means “to cease, to end, or to rest.” Though groups throughout history have taken this very literally and focused on physical rest, the concept should include both physical and mental rest. (For a more in-depth look at this ancient tradition, check out our Parent’s Guide to Sabbath & Rest.)

It’s more than just taking time to “stop and smell the roses.” There’s a mind and heart shift that requires us to trust that whatever God has begun, He will sustain with or without us. After all, if the God of the universe can pause to rest after He created and set the world in motion, surely we should be able to rest as well. The weekly rhythm of pausing is a gift from God to remind us that He is our hope—and ultimately, Christmas is the time to remember that our hope, Emmanuel, broke into our world and said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Action Steps

This weekend, we want to invite you to plan an intentional Sabbath. As you plan, keep in mind these four factors that influence how the Jews practice Sabbath to this day.

  • Relent: Stop working. Remember that on Sabbath we cease from both physical and mental work. As best as you’re able, let go of whatever you’ve been trying to think through or figure out, just for a single day.
  • Rest: Our bodies need rest, and we rest best when our minds and bodies are free from doing. Once you’ve “paused,” rest/sleep will come much easier.
  • Remember: Hope has come into the world. Carve out time to reflect and remember that the God who created all things loves us so much that He sent His Son to save us. You can make this a part of conversation over meals, in car rides, playing games, going for a walk, getting ice cream, sipping on cocoa or coffee, or whatever else your family enjoys doing together.
  • Restore: Take time to consider together: What re-energizes us? What drains us? How can we do things as a family that are fun and energizing? How do we remove the things that drain us? Give yourselves permission to play and enjoy God’s creation.

The key is to start somewhere. This is not a list of everything you must do; it’s a list of suggestions. Start with some small wins and slowly work your way into more each week. Happy planning!