When We Need A Break – and Don’t Know It

“She kept talking about how God would speak to me during my time off this summer. But I didn’t have any time off this summer.”

My pastor friend (I’ll call him Rob) just shook his head as he told the story. For the last two years, Rob and his wife have been planning a once-in-a-lifetime, two-week cruise. They also have an extended out-of-state family gathering. Since both are scheduled for this fall, he planned to work through the summer.

That is until God got his attention. In late May, Rob attended his stepfather’s funeral, the fourth parent he and his wife had lost in four years. That evening, as he sat on his deck, his entire right side went numb, followed by a searing pins-and-needles pain. An MRI confirmed what he suspected – a stroke. His family history had finally caught up with him.

Emergency Room

Two weeks later, Rob was back in the emergency room with a racing heart rate. Although in generally good shape, these health concerns were making him constantly tired. By necessity, he had to cut back at the church, but it never occurred to him that Someone might be trying to tell him something.

Thankfully, it occurred to others. Four hours before his stepfather’s funeral, a man he had only known for three weeks got up from their conversation, looked Rob in the eye and said, “God just told me to tell you that you need some rest.”

Hidden Things

It wasn’t the first time he had heard that message. Their Pastor’s Prayer group meets twice a month for prayer over their church, their leaders, and God’s direction for their ministry. A woman in that group kept saying, “Pastor, when you go on your break this summer, God is going to speak to you through Jeremiah 33:3,”

Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

She spoke this to Rob and the prayer group for the past 6-8 months as if his time away had already been set.

Not Enough

But that wasn’t quite enough. Just last week on a two-day getaway by a lake, Rob earnestly prayed, “God, is now the time for rest and renewal?” No response.

First thing the next morning, he opened his Bible app to read “the verse of the day.” It was Hebrews 4:9, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” He smiled and read all of chapter 4.

The following morning, he opened the app and was surprised to see the very next verse, Hebrews 4:10, “for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”

By now, it’s beginning to sink in. They left the lake that afternoon, and the next day, Sunday, he woke up early to prepare for worship. In the 5 years Rob’s been using this Bible app, they have never used successive Bible verses two days in a row, let alone three.

With some hesitancy, he opened the app, and there it was, Hebrews 4:11. “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”

A Sure Sign

Multiple times from multiple sources imparting the same message – a sure sign of God speaking. Rob shared all these things with the leadership of his church this week. To his amazement and their credit, they unanimously approved a six-week renewal leave starting in July.

Rob laughed and said, “I had no plans for a break this summer. But God did!”

Is it possible that God has plans for you to take a break too?  

Perhaps like my friend, Rob, you’ve been pegging your RPM’s in the red zone for far too long. Neither our bodies nor our souls are designed to work that way. Sooner or later, there will be breakdowns. Some of them will be costly. Others will take us out for good.

Known and Loved

By God’s grace, we can live differently. Someone said a sign of our spirituality is being able to do nothing and not feel guilty about it. Our God invites us to a Sabbath rest. God desires us to put down our doing and striving, so we can be known and loved just for who we are.

That happens when we rest.

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Roger Ross

A native of Cambridge, Illinois, Roger has served as a pastor in Texas, the British Channel Island of Guernsey, and Illinois. While in Illinois, he led teams that planted two new churches and served for 10 years as the lead pastor of one of the largest United Methodist Churches in the Midwest. It was his privilege to serve as the Director of Congregational Excellence in the Missouri Conference before coming into his current role with Spiritual Leadership, Inc (SLI).

Roger now comes alongside pastors, non-profit leaders and their leadership teams as an executive coach, specializing in leadership that inspires change. As a side gig, he loves teaching evangelism and church planting as an adjunct professor at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas.

Other passions of his include SCUBA diving in warm blue water, Krispy Kremes, and board games with family and friends. He also has a weakness for golf.

Roger is the author of three books, Meet The Goodpeople: Wesley’s 7 Ways to Share Faith, Come Back: Returning to the Life You Were Made For, and Come Back Participant Guide, all through Abingdon Press.

Now for the best part. Roger is married to Leanne Klein Ross, and they live Bloomington, Illinois. God has blessed them with two adult children, a son-in-law, several tropical fish, and one adorable granddog.

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