The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul By Restoring Sabbath
by Mark Buchanan
5 out of 5 cups of coffee!
I feel I need to start with a disclaimer of sorts. I will read just about anything I can get my hands on by Mark Buchanan. He is the kind of writer that I want to be. So you can guess that this is going to be a pretty hearty recommendation.
“The Rest of God” has an engaging rhythm much like a slow waltz. From personal, historical, and literary hooks to healthy biblical/theological reflection giving way to elegantly simple application, there is a soothing motion to this book. It really is a refreshing mixture of artistic expression that doesn’t sacrifice intellectual substance.
In the preface Buchanan extends to the reader a clever invitation to rediscover this neglected and undervalued gift of sabbath. He beckons you to stretch out for a cat-nap in the sun. I’m not a cat person, but I can feel that warmth just by thinking about it for a moment.
The essence of the word, ’sabbath,’ is simply to stop. The introduction of this book, cleverly titled “Starting to Stop,”draws us to consider a need most all of us have but many (if not most) fail to recognize. He addresses the maddening pace of this world and graciously calls us to reframe what God really wants from us. (Spoiler alert: it’s not your performance or production—it’s your attention.)
The following paragraph (both underlined and highlighted from my two trips through the book) helped me take hold of the author’s aim with a real hope of leaning into the journey:
In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Some knowing is never pursued, only received. And for that, you need to be still.Mark Buchanan, “The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul By Restoring Sabbath,” p. 3
This book is about stopping, but not in an aimless vacation manner. It is about learning to stop with purpose. The chapters have a pattern, each clearly using the pointed phrase “Stopping to…” Buchanan works to ground the practice of the sacred stop in a biblically faithful but deeply meaningful manner. Then he concludes each chapter with a section called “Sabbath Liturgy” in which the reader is challenged to stop and practice the sabbath principle unpacked through the chapter.
I have to be careful here because I could easily barrage you with a stream of quotes from the huge pile of highlights and underlines in my well-worn copy. Especially in my most recent read through, I tried to take small bites like you might with an exquisite and decadent dessert that you wanted to be sure to savor every morsel and collect every stray crumb.
I think what stands out to me as I try to step back and look at the richness of this work is that this examination of the practice of sabbath is handled in a way that is entirely free from any semblance of legalism. It really fastened in my understanding the fact that sabbath is a precious gift. And what do you do with a precious gift? You keep it and treasure it.
Having been a little kid and having been responsible for many, many more, I’m reminded of the times I’ve seen a child receive an immensely valuable gift that they simply cannot comprehend, yet it has the power to change the course of their lives. I think that Buchanan shows the grace of a creative parent trying to teach that child to be grateful. Some will soon be blown away at the recognition and some may never take hold of it on this side of eternity.
If the whole idea of sabbath seems like a prohibition—rules that keep you from something—you need to read this book and let our brother Mark help you reframe this precious gift.
Buchanan paints with his words a very sensory-rich landscape that almost demands that we slow down even to read about it. And in this pace-slowing beauty he helps us see the treasure we’ve had all along but probably misunderstood.
I will leave you with a quote from the epilogue that I hope you will sit with for just a moment:
But what about Sabbath? Sabbath was made for man. It was something God prepared long ago, inscribed into the very order of creation: a day when all the other days loosed their grip. They were forced to. It’s a day that God intended to fuss over us, not we over it. It was designed to protect us, pay tribute to us, coddle us, in all our created frailty and God-imprinted beauty and hard-won liberty, in our status as men and women whom God made in his own image and freed by his own hand and own blood.
It is a father’s gift to indulge his children.Mark Buchanan, “The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul By Restoring Sabbath,” p. 220
You can purchase “The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul By Restoring Sabbath” through these Amazon links:
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