Denise Day Spencer

May 31, 2006

Take a rest

Filed under: Devotional Life — denisedayspencer @ 4:48 am

Two weeks ago I got a much-earned but completely unplanned rest. I got sick. Sicker than I'd been in a while.

It all started a year ago. Our pressman left the OBI print shop, and we've been working short-handed ever since. Tamara and I had been on our own before, but never for a whole year, and never in the spring. You see, spring is our busiest time at the print shop. But somehow we made it. We buckled down, rolled up our sleeves, pitched in, put our noses to the grindstone and all the other appropriate cliches you can think of. We're a good team, and by the grace of God (and a few extra hours) we published our newsletters and hammered together our plaques and we got the job done.

Then we both collapsed.


The adrenadline on which we'd been running finally ran out and God decided His grace to us would not keep us going, but rather bring us to a dead stop.

I had the easier portion. I was supposed to be working while Tamara was on vacation. So I got to call in sick and get three extra days off. But Tamara's family had to spend their Gatlinburg vacation watching her shiver in front of a roaring fire in their Smoky Mountain cabin. Sorry, guys.

I can't speak for my print shop partner, but work had not been the only source of my stress. Our son just graduated from high school, so the "empty nest" is looming on the horizon. Our daughter is getting married this coming Saturday. (Even good stress is still stress, right?) My personal issues had, of late, included such themes as grief and loss, ghosts from the past, and uncertainty about the future.

Monday morning two weeks ago, I just couldn't do it any more.

It was the best kind of illness, actually. My temperature never topped 100.6. I never threw up. It didn't go into pneumonia or any other dreaded complication. My only lasting symptoms were a fever, slight queasiness, and total exhaustion. But it was just enough to force me to rest.

Dear, sweet Michael brought me beverages and did his best to keep me hydrated. Grandma offered me food and tried to get me to eat. ("We've got some lima beans here." Oh, yeah. Lima beans are what I always crave when I'm nauseated!) But mostly I slept. Sometimes it was a deep sleep in the bed. Other times I dozed on the couch with the reassuring sound of the TV in the background.

Maybe it's just me, but when I'm that sick–which, thankfully, is hardly ever–I find that it changes my perspective on things. As I lie there in my feverish state, nothing in the world matters except resting (and possibly a tall, ice-cold glass of soda or fruit juice.) I can almost feel all of the concerns that had been weighing me down just slipping away into nothingness. And I let them go.

Our school's founder, James Anderson Burns, was once hit over the head with a rifle butt in a feud when he was a young man. He staggered into the hills and lay there for some time, unconscious. He wrote in his autobiography that he awoke to the twilight song of the birds and was a changed man. I guess being sick is a bit like that for me.

But here's the really cool part. The next week in our "Soli Deo" house worship time, Michael talked about the Sabbath, and how this weekly day of rest was one of the things that separated the Jewish people from the surrounding tribes. He went on to say that now Christ Himself is our Sabbath.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His…Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us…Now we who have believed enter that rest…" –Hebrews 4:9-10, 1-2a, 3a

One of the hymns we sang that night has been in my head all week. It was an "Indelible Grace" rendition of "Jesus, I Come," with lyrics by William T. Sleeper. If you haven't sung it in a while, listen to these words:

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus, I come; Jesus, I come.

Into Thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my sickness into Thy health, out of my want and into Thy wealth, out of my sin and into Thyself, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss…into the glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of earth's sorrows into Thy balm, out of life's storms and into Thy calm, out of distress to jubilant psalm, Jesus, I come to Thee…

When I am overwrought and exhausted, my Father gives me rest. When my own good works are as filthy rags to Him, Christ Himself is my Sabbath.

Perhaps it's time you took a rest, too.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] Noel and Ryan’s wedding is this weekend, so blogging may be light for a while. In the meantime, Denise has written a good essay at her web site: Take A Rest. […]

    Pingback by internetmonk.com » Blog Archive » More on The Gospel and Appalachia — May 31, 2006 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  2. Dear Mrs. Spencer, I really enjoyed your thoughts on the issue of rest. I am taking a bit of a rest myself here in the mountains of Northern Arizona. I’m always taken aback with your comments on this life, enabling me to see more clearly. When I am really sick I experience this catharsis/purge of emotion and usually revert back to some insecure place in my childhood-it’s wierd! Grace never really enters the picture for some reason; I guess I lack perspective and revelation. Now I’m not out here doing nothing! I am taking two college courses towards my Masters in English and plan to Ace them. Classes start on June 12 and last thru August 8th. Please tell Mr. Spencer I’ve enjoyed his recent work as the IM, especially the”Magnificent Seven.” Please pray for me this summer-Haven’t abandoned the ministry…yet:) This is a season of reconciliation between me and my parents…Sounds like the Spencer household is on the brink of an emotional deluge with a wedding and the commencement of a college journey. You all take care and may Care be all over you all!-scott

    Comment by Scott Self — May 31, 2006 @ 9:22 pm | Reply


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