Glimpses of Rest, week 4

Editor’s Note: We are excited to welcome Joy and Bethany to this little corner of the internet today. While the women of UFC don’t have many opportunities to see each other face-to-face in this season of masks and restricted gatherings, we are so thankful for the women who graciously agreed to share a bit of their stories with you. Our hope is that through this feature you get to know a few of your sisters in Christ just a bit better. Both of today’s highlighted women have served as Bible study leaders at UFC and continue to do much within the current limitations to encourage the women in their lives. May their stories of learning to rest in the Lord encourage you today!

Joy

Joy is from beautiful South Africa and is married to an amazing American. They lived overseas doing full-time ministry for more than 20 years. Joy, her husband, and their two teenage children have been living in the U.S. for the last year.

What did the Sabbath look like for you as a child?

I am not sure what it was like in America, but during my youth in South Africa, all of the stores and entertainment were closed on a Sunday. So the day already felt different for everyone — more relaxed and free.  

For our family, church was always as part of our Sunday Sabbath. Now our Church did not believe in looking at the clock too much, and services could often run 3 to 4 hours! Some Sundays we would have a potluck lunch with other congregants, sharing delicious food and having good fellowship long into the afternoon. Looking back, I am so grateful for this unhurried time of being in God’s house with God’s people every week – not just rushing through a service to get to leisure time, but putting “time” to one side and focusing on what was really important. And to be honest, it taught me that going to church was not only important, it was also fun! And of course our fellowship time was sweet.

On Sunday afternoons my mom often encouraged one of us girls (I had four sisters) to try her hand at baking a cake, often followed by a lovely teatime together. I remember Sunday afternoons being restful.  There was nothing we were not allowed to do, but there was a lot of restful and restorative things we were encouraged to do.

Looking back now, I can recognize that making time for extended times of communal worship, the hearing of God’s Word and fellowship with other believers were all central to our resting. And of course, there were fun family times around simple pleasures like having tea together or going for a walk on the beach, which were also a delight to our young hearts.

As you set out on your own, how did your practice of sabbath change? What stayed the same?

By the time I left home to go to university, South Africa had changed a lot, and the stores and all kinds of entertainment were open on a Sunday. So it had to become more of a conscious point to still make it a priority to attend church (and not to look at the clock to see how long the service was going!). In the afternoons, I would often try to visit my grandmother and elderly aunts. Just visiting over pots of tea and chatting with them was a restful experience and helped me feel grounded and refreshed.

Over our many years doing ministry in a foreign country, resting one day a week became essential to our health and wellbeing, and was something my husband and I prioritized. When the kids were very little and I found it hard to have time for myself on a Sunday, I would find a babysitter (or my husband if he was available) on another day of the week to care for the kids for a few hours. I would go and sit in a coffee shop as part of my sabbath resting from the demands of ministry and babies/toddlers.

Describe a time in your life when you forgot to truly rest in the Lord and trust Him to provide for you. What happened?

As I mentioned, I tried my best to make space in my life for rest when my kids where young. But I think it was still difficult for me to trust the Lord to provide for me in that season. Kids are needy and energetic, and although my husband certainly helped a lot, it was still sometimes overwhelming, especially continuing to do ministry from home, while living in a small apartment, in a polluted “concrete-jungle,” a city of more than 5 million other people!  I remember when my youngest was about 2 years old. I woke up one day out of what seemed to have been an exhausting dream and asked myself, “Who am I and what the heck happened to Joy?” My children’s youngest years had been a delightful and challenging season for me. I had survived, but somehow I felt I had lost myself and my connection to Jesus.

What did God teach you in that season?

Looking back I realized how God had cared for me and provided during that season, even when it felt overwhelming and I did not do a great job trusting Him. I have a perspective now that I had lost in the middle of the craziness of that season that allows me to see how God carried me through.

I also have more grace for myself in challenging seasons. I am kinder to myself when things are overwhelming and it seems like I am failing at resting in God or trusting Him as I should.  

And I leaned that when I held my screaming baby in my arms or picked up my snotty toddler out of the dirt or changed the poopy diaper for the millionth time, I was welcoming and receiving Jesus. In Mark 9:36-7 we see Jesus taking a child in His arms and saying, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Now I know that this passage has deeper meanings, but I learned to also take it at its face value. As a mommy, I could take my children in my arms, receive them in the name of Jesus, and in so doing receive more of Jesus in my own life.

What does your sabbath look like today?

I think being in the pandemic, where we are at home a lot every day of the week, has made sabbathing challenging, and I don’t think I have nailed it. It feels harder for the Sabbath day to feel different and refreshing. I do try to avoid household chores, like laundry and cleaning (try to get those done on a Saturday) and do try to make time for some fun family time together.

What is your favorite way to cease from toil and find refreshment?

Being in the U.S., I have enjoyed walking a lot. After the busy, polluted streets of the city I had lived in, being out in the fresh clean air is so refreshing to me. I also love drinking coffee and eating chocolate, so finding a warm spot to sit down for a cuppa and a smidgen of chocolate helps me to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. Or sharing a sweet treat with my family over a pot of tea, as I did in my childhood. And of course, sometimes I just take a nap on the sofa! It is the simple things that help me to encounter Jesus and savor the goodness of all He has provided for me.

Bethany Bothman

Bethany Bothman and her husband Rod have been married for 28 years and have two adult children. She works two days a week at a preschool and fills in the rest of the week with family, friends, and of course chores and errands! Besides Sunday church, the things she misses most in this COVID season are hosting small group in her home, spending time with her parents who live out of state, attending women’s Bible studies, and traveling with her family.

What did the Sabbath look like for you as a child?

Growing up we attended church on Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings with a mellow afternoon in between. Sundays were just quiet days in general, a collective pause. Many restaurants and stores were closed on Sundays, and few events were scheduled on Sundays.

As you set out on your own, how did your practice of sabbath change? What stayed the same?

Sunday afternoons are usually still mellow at our house, a time to rest, maybe take a long bike ride if the weather allows or play board games with family or friends.

Describe a time in your life when you forgot to truly rest in the Lord and trust Him to provide for you. What happened?

In the busier years when I was working five days a week while trying to keep up with my children’s activities, I quickly learned that if I didn’t rest on Sunday come Tuesday I was longing for the weekend! I slowly learned the wisdom in following God’s command to rest. When I’m rested, I’m so much more likely to respond with patience and kindness to the people around me.

What did God teach you in that season?

When I struggle to rest on the Sabbath, I ask myself, “Am I trusting God to give me time for what’s important to Him?” (Notice I said to Him, not me.) If I’m frantic and frazzled, it might be because I’m trying to carry more than He intends for me to carry.

What does your sabbath look like today?

I’m learning slowly to consider the space and pace my husband needs for rest. Recently, we’ve learned to rest on Sundays from making decisions, whether about upcoming trips or purchases. That creates space for contentment.

What is your favorite way to cease from toil and find refreshment?

This slower season has allowed more time to savor God’s Word. I also feel the air rush back in when spending time with family and friends, kayaking, snowshoeing, biking, sewing, or playing the piano. 

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