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Commanded to Rest

by Sarah Sundin

Feeling overwhelmed?

While the life of a writer sounds idyllic-spinning stories and signing books-the reality is a whirlwind. When my fourth novel released last September, I worked nonstop-writing, emails, Facebook, interviews, Twitter, newsletters, articles, speaking engagements. By November I was a wreck.

I haven’t been a big fan of “God’s One Word of the Year for You.” One word only? Every January 1? Right on schedule? Really? However, this year a word emerged for me. Granted, God gave it to me in February. But I knew it was from God because I didn’t want to hear it.

Sabbath.

To most of us Sabbath means going to church every Sunday. Sure, we can do that. But God’s commandment is much more than this. It’s a command to rest.
Exodus 20: 8-11: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work…For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.”

If the Lord Almighty took a day off, so should we! The Lord knows our tendency to run ourselves ragged. The Lord knew before creation that we would live in a 24/7 world with our faces glued to our screens. The Lord made us and knows how we function, and He knows we need rest.

How loving and merciful He is to command us to rest. Yet we resist, like toddlers being put down for naps.

What does Sabbath rest truly look like for a professional writer living in a 24/7 world, where deadlines need to be met, emails need to be answered, Facebook needs to be updated, and tweets need to be tweeted? How can we incorporate the concept of Sabbath into our lives?

On Distant ShoresFor me, this means a two-pronged approach. First, I’m trimming things down. Instead of jumping on each promotional opportunity, I evaluate it first. Will it reach new readers, connect with current readers, or minister to people? If not, I’ll pass.

Second, I’m intentionally working rest into my routines. Nice long breaks during the workday, taking the dog for a walk or reading a novel. Regular days off-except the daily internet necessities…sigh. A week-long vacation focused on family and being outside-I have the sunburned scalp to prove it.

My fifth novel releases tomorrow, a blessing in every way. This time I’m determined to listen to the Lord and obey His command to rest.

How about you? How do you incorporate Sabbath into your life?

Sarah Sundin 7-31Sarah Sundin is the author of four historical novels, including On Distant Shores (Revell, August 2013, http://www.fictionfinder.com/book/detail/2411 ) She lives in California with her husband and children, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and was honored to be named Mount Hermon’s 2011 Writer of the Year.

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10 Responses to Commanded to Rest

  1. I really like your approach, Sarah. Back in the spring, three separate sources — including my husband — told me they were worried and thought I should slow down, enjoy the journey. I’m not the same as you, in that I don’t have actual deadlines (just self-imposed ones) at this time, but if I’m ever going to be a published author, it’s a good idea to get into the groove and learn how to rest, even in the midst of craziness. Happy to report I did slow down (which for me meant NOT spending every evening writing…I work full time during the day and was burning out fast), and me and my manuscript are all the better for it. I also try not to work on Sundays.

  2. I couldn’t agree more, Sarah. Finding that time to rest is so crucial, yet it’s one of the last things on our “to-do” list somedays. I have four small children and I’m blessed to stay home, but add that to following the writing dream and helping my husband run our small business–it can be very overwhelming at times. I’ve learned the art of saying no–to others and to myself. God desires the best from me and for me. The only way to give it to him is to find rest.

  3. Sarah Sundin says:

    Lindsay – now is the time to get those routines and good practices in place, before the contract!

    Gabrielle – it’s so hard to say no, but saying yes is far worse in the long run if all it does is stress you out. I am slowly learning. Not every opportunity is a “calling.” :)

  4. Karla Akins says:

    I am not a good rester. But yes, we definitely need to rest. Jesus did! What makes us think we don’t need to rest if the Song of God Himself took breaks? Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Over the years I have grown more aware of my body’s “messages” that I need rest, and (while at first I tried to ignore them) I have learned that listening to these inclings do me well. It is much easier now to acquiesce my internal resting cues, as I know that it will pay off when I pursue productivity again later. I actually recently wrote about something similar on my blog here http://ish.re/1ZRP (taking a break before you breakdown). Excellent post Sarah, and excellent reminder for all of us go-getters who need to remember that resting is just as important as writing! Thank you for that! And congrats on your 5th release!

  6. Karen Lyons says:

    Love Sabbath(Saturdays) it really does recharge you and brings you closer to HIM!!!!!!!

  7. The Lord’s really been calling me to simplify marketing and trust Him more. He’s also been calling me to “rest”. It seems like all authors are being called by the industry to jump into marketing but all authors are not created equally (personality-wise). But if we listen to God, He can direct us in the best way for our particular writing ministry. Dare I say it’s a brave act to follow God in this instead of man?

  8. Sarah Sundin says:

    Karla – so true! God worked HARD for 6 days – but then He rested. I’m beginning to like that model.

    Carissa – I think a lot of us are discovering this – the hard way :) I notice if I overwork, my mind kind of shuts down. I find myself dithering around the internet doing nothing! My brain is telling me, “If you don’t give me a rest, I’m TAKING one.”

    Karen – I’ve been great with the Sunday morning part of the Sabbath, but now I’m learning I need more. God established a good pattern, didn’t He?

    Dianne – I’m hearing similar refrains from lots of authors. And in fact, our publishers don’t want us to burn out either – they want us to write books first and foremost. Balance is the key.

  9. Hi Sarah!

    Wow, you just hit the nail on the head with this post! Rest. What is that? :) Thanks for the reminder from God’s Word! I needed it. Keep up the good work!

    Morgan

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