Pastors' Wives, Rest, Sabbaticals are Life Savers

Ministry Matters: When God Wakes You Up to Rest


“And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob! And he said, Here am I. And He said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again; and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.” Genesis 46:2-4a

This passage (and the verses before it) literally leaped out at me recently. Perhaps it’s because we’re on a sabbatical, and the topic of rest and stillness is always on my mind and in my heart these days. There are some fascinating truths here!

Jacob is old. And he’s just received the shock of his life in learning that his son Joseph is still alive. After years of grief, he didn’t dare believe that this report could be true. Yet, after hearing all of the experiences of his other sons, and after seeing the entourage waiting for him, his spirit revived. Hope renewed within him, and he resolved to make the journey to see his son before he died. And so he traveled, all of his family and his belongings with him. I presume that he expected this experience to be his last. Perhaps he thought that if the reports of Joseph’s life were untrue, the grief would kill him. But if it were true, they would embrace a new home. Either way, he stopped in Beersheba for the night to offer sacrifices and to rest.

Or so he thought.

Yet in the middle of the night, while he was getting much needed physical rest, God woke him up. God disturbed his rest. But He had a very important message for Jacob- one that transcended any need for physical rest.

It was simply a reminder and a promise.

A reminder: I am God, the God of your father. Jacob, I just want to remind you that I am God. Be still and know this. I’m the God that your fathers believed and trusted. I am Jehovah. Don’t be afraid to go to Egypt.

A promise: In Egypt, I’m going to make a great nation of you. I will go down with you. and I will “also surely” bring you up again. And…your son Joseph will greet you in the flesh.


I’d say that that was worth waking up for! Likely he didn’t sleep again that night. His spirit was so awake and alive that his physical needs faded.

Here is what I find to be so interesting:

God chose a time of stillness to wake Jacob up.

He was already sleeping- why not wait until morning to give him the promise. Or why not reveal it to him before he even left? I think God wanted to intentionally point out to Jacob an area where his soul was not at rest.

Somewhere along the journey of faith and ministry, our spirits begin to sag. Perhaps it’s grief or confusion from the past. Perhaps it’s discontentment with the present, or fear of the future. Maybe it’s a trifecta of all of those at once.

Sometimes we think we are resting, waiting, still. But God sees an area that isn’t fully still yet. And He needs to wake us up in order to see it.

This has hit home to me recently. When our sabbatical started, I put a priority on physical rest in order to restore my health. I also put a priority on spiritual rest, knowing that, after ten years of pouring out as a pastor’s wife, my soul desperately needed (and still does need) to learn a rhythm of rest. It takes discipline to maintain rest in any area, but getting my body to rest has proved much less difficult than getting my spirit to rest.

I’m a dreamer, and my heart is always thinking, planning, desiring. Always looking past today and into tomorrow. And recently as I poured out my dreams to God, gave Him all the pieces- both shattered and whole- He whispered,

“You’re still not resting.”


And again, “You’re not still yet.” Well…of course I am. I’m reading more than I ever have, I’m meditating and praying, I’m taking care of my physical needs more attentively. For once I’m not crazy busy with church events and music practice and planning and….and.

Yet He showed me an area of my life that was not yet still. A few of us ministry wives know what it’s like to constantly live in transition, even with roots down. It seems that some of us are called to transition, called to help churches through transition. And it’s ugly, it’s brutal, it’s painful. People yell angry things and then leave {or sometimes, don’t leave}, churches split and refuse to heal, power struggles arise, and teamwork dissolves. It’s confusing- it’s a life of sea sickness as the waves of change toss the leaders to and fro.

It’s a season that refuses to be a season.

And even when we slow the physical pace or change our residual place, we are still not still. We seem to have lost the ability to rest without fear of the next change.

This is where God’s whisper caught my breath and pinpointed exactly where my spirit was not yet still. Not still concerning the future. How is it that we can embrace sabbatical with such relief, and at the same time be peering around the corner to the future? I know the answer lies within my deep desire for ministry. Even though the fiery darts have come often and painfully, ministry is what I was created to do.

But…time set aside for healing is a ministry too. A ministry to myself and my own heart- vital for being able to pour out again.

And so the whisper comes to you as it did to me, “I am God. Be still and know this. Know this from the past and for the present. And…for the future, I give this promise: ‘I will go down with you, and I will also surely bring you up again. I am with you always.'”

Is there a part of your heart that is not yet at rest? Perhaps God is waking you up to let you know you need to rest and be still? Don’t ignore His gentle shaking, His whispers. Wake up and rest.


A Kindred Spirit

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