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Finding God in Hawaii

A week ago today I had just arrived home to New Zealand after spending some time overseas. I had come from a warm, humid Hawaiian summer. The air coated with the sweet, scent of coconut oil, tropical flowers and fruit. And many a day spent on a white sand beach with colourful fish swimming playfully in the turquoise water before me. So it was quite a shock to step out of the airport to an icy, cool breeze and winter in all it's glory. And apparently it was a warm day in Christchurch!

My time in Hawaii was spent at a University of the Nations campus where I was a nanny for a family who were doing some missionary training. Even though I wasn't attending the classes and was simply looking after their beautiful three year old child, I felt like God wanted me to learn a new aspect of his mission.

When I think about mission, I think about doing things. We are taught how to evangelise and share our faith with others. We will go and serve a community by building or cleaning and supplying their needs. We might preach a sermon or teach a class or play sports with kids. But one thing I feel like we aren't taught or practice well is how to stop 'doing' and just 'be'. To rest. To Sabbath.

God has ingrained rest in the rhythms of creation. Genesis 2:3 says that “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

God created the seventh day to rest, but these days it is hard to find rest at all. We fill our weekends up with activities and don't take that Sabbath that God provided us with. It makes me wonder how much more healthy we would be spiritually if we took one day a week to actually rest. But the problem is, I don't think we even know how to any more.

While I was in Hawaii I had a lot of free time. I had a lot of time by myself and when I was with people there was a lot of time of doing nothing. At the start I found this really hard. Sometimes I would be sitting with others who would be doing their own thing. And as I sat there in the silence of my thoughts my mind would tell me, “this is awkward, you need to be doing something, you need to say something.” Just something to fill in the nothing. But I felt like God taught me to appreciate the nothing. And in those moments of silence, of not even trying to hear God, somehow I grew closer to him. It's like that feeling of being so comfortable with someone that you can sit in silence with them and it doesn't feel awkward. I learnt to have that with God. There was nothing super spiritual about it. It was just taking time for mind, body and spirit to have time out and be energised again.

To rest is not to give up on those 'doing' things. To rest is to acknowledge that those things are still important but to take time out to 'be' with God before going back to those things.

I like to think of Sabbath as us dethroning ourselves and trusting God to breathe life into us again.

And now the challenge I have is how I will incorporate this Sabbath back into my life at home. A life that is filled with study, church and other commitments. How am I going to make sure that I take time out for God to breathe life into me again? This is where that trust comes in. I need to trust that when I take time out of the craziness, when I have pressing assignments and deadlines, that God will revive me. That when there is lots to be done, taking time to 'be' with God will be worth it.


Do you ever (or often) feel disconnected from God? Might it be because you don't you how to slow down and rest?


Take some time this week to rest before God, with no agenda and expectations. Be sure to slow right down - and put away that phone!