Sabbath by the Sea… or the snow, or the desert…

Andy Stanley. Beth Moore. Ken Davis. Jennifer Rothschild.IMG_20140105_081452

The list of inspirational and motivational Christian speakers goes on and on. They present material in ways we’ve never heard before. Their words make us laugh and cry. They are professionals at what they do, and God absolutely uses them to change lives and lead them to Him.

From January 2-6 I was in Mombasa, Kenya on the shore of the Indian Ocean for the World Gospel Mission (WGM) annual retreat. We had a speaker better than any of the ones I listed above. Our speaker was God.

It was different. It wasn’t the typical retreat, but it was exactly what I needed.

“Sabbath by the Sea” was the theme, and it was all about spending one-on-one time with God in whatever way each person needed to. We met in the morning for a brief prayer meeting and then again in the evening. Other than that, it was between me and God. I talked to Him by the pool and as I walked along the stunning beach. There’s something very special and surreal about not only talking to God, but just listening.

Between the prayer meetings and my quiet time with God, I learned a lot about the “Sabbath.” The dictionary defines the Sabbath as “a weekly day of rest or time of worship.” For Christians, this day is on Sunday.

But Sabbath doesn’t just have to be on Sunday. And it doesn’t have to be about going to church.

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also rest from their own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.” Hebrews 4:9-11

The first day of retreat was, “An Invitation to Rest in God.” Day 2 was “An Invitation to Receive from God,” and Day 3 was “An Invitation to Respond to God.”

IMG_5228While we can embrace Sabbath any day of the week, today is the official Sabbath. It is Sunday, and it is my first Sunday back in Uganda since the retreat. Tomorrow we start back to school, and I still have some preparing to do before tomorrow morning. However, I find that I have to remind myself to spend part of today resting and talking to God.

Motivational speakers can be great, but I’m very pleased with the fact that WGM let God take center stage at this year’s retreat. Still, I don’t have to be “by the Sea” to have a meaningful Sabbath, and neither do you. You can have a restful and inspirational Sabbath no matter where you are, because God is always there, too.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
Psalm 139:7-10

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