What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Recently I was on retreat in North Devon. Verena, Bicester’s Rector, recently said that she admired my ‘discipline’ in taking time for an annual retreat. In some respects, I have felt guilty about that – self-indulgent even.
But over the week I felt God talking to me about the importance of intentionally taking time to spend exclusively with Him. The passage above comes after that famous reading where Solomon states that there is a season to everything and there should be, in every believr in Christ, time set exclusively aside to ‘be’ with God. He has put ‘eternity into man’s heart’ and we need to spend time with Him in order to make some sense of it. We won’t ever, in this life, see clearly – only ‘through a glass darkly ’ – but we will ‘see’ and get perspective for our lives, our families, our work. There is that hunger within each of us to ‘know’ God deeply, and we do well to feed it.
On arrival at Lee Abbey I was shown to my room, which had a wonderful view of the sea, the woods and of a myriad of swallows swooping and feeding on insects. One night I could even hear bats calling … What first struck me was that there was no desk and chair and I wondered how I was going to ‘work’, do my journaling, reflect and pray. And I felt as if God was saying ‘I want you to rest in me’. So I,
- Was asleep at 8.30 most nights
- Spent time walking around the estate and ‘being’ in His wonderful creation
- Listened to talks on the ‘Joy of the Lord’ and felt it enter deep into my spirit
- Felt an increasing sense of God’s refreshing and peace
The message I am trying to bring to you is two-fold. We are given daily ‘work’, but we are also called to embrace something of eternity and we can only do that by responding to God’s call to stop – regularly - and be with Him, and let Him speak to our innermost being, and refresh us. This is important.
Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.