Our family is back in Arizona after spending the last few weeks in Oregon. Before we left we stopped by a Starbucks that had a path into the forest behind it. Naturally, I had to take the kids on a little exploration walk to find out where the path went. Much to our enjoyment, we got to walk across a super cool bridge over a river and through a meandering forest. There were a few signs along the way and one of them caught my attention.
On it I read these words:
“Sweek Pond is one of several small wetlands nestled within Tualatin’s urbanized landscape. Often dismissed as ‘useless’ lands, these pockets of natural vegetation provide critical habitat for many animal species.”
The phrase “useless lands” stood out to me after the beauty I had just walked through. Who on earth would call this beauty useless? Yet the more I thought of it, the more I realized why someone would say that. There isn’t a lot you can do in the middle of wetlands.
I’m a type-A-enneagram-8 person. I love productivity and efficiency. And sometimes this causes me to miss the beauty around me. I’m reminded of this whenever I decide to listen to music instead of an audiobook. I love listening to audiobooks in the car or during a walk as it allows me to make the most of my time. But sometimes I just enjoy being present in the midst of an album that seems to draw out the perfect emotions I’m feeling at the time. I’ve had this happen with Bastille, Chevelle, The Talbott Brothers, Bring Me the Horizon, and others. If you know those artists you know they are all over the map musically. And sometimes so are the things I’m feeling. My wife often does something similar with worship music.
Sometimes the beauty and power of those songs can be dismissed as ‘useless space’ to a person looking to be productive. But I need those times. I suspect you do too.
What are some ‘useless spaces’ you can take advantage of in your life right now? How can you slow down, breathe in deeply, and see what others may not see? Essentially, this is choosing to live a Sabbath life all the time rather than just taking breaks (which I think was the point all along). I’ve found I also tend to recognize the presence of Jesus in these spaces as well. In fact, this is what the author of the book of Hebrews was talking about when he—or she—explained how the literal Sabbath day was not God’s ultimate intent.
God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,
“In my anger I took an oath:
‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”
even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.” But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.”
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:
“Today when you hear his voice,
don’t harden your hearts.”
Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest.Hebres 4:1-11
Indeed, let us do our best to enter that ‘useless’ space.