Summer is approaching…I’m ready. I’m not always ready, but this year I want to sit by a body of water, relax, restore and have a break from the madness of schedules, to-do’s, deadlines, work and school projects (school projects technically aren’t mine, but quickly become mine)–I need a break from managing life.
One of my favorite things to do is to get in the car and drive. Get out of the city. See the scenery change from concrete and steel to green and brown up against big, blue skies. The second I get out of the city limits, I start to feel my body let down and release some of the tension. I begin to breathe a little easier.
God Intends Rest
God designed our bodies for regular, recurring, daily, monthly, yearly times of rest, replenishment, and fellowship. If you study the Gospels, you’ll see time and time again Christ fed people physically before He fed them spiritually. He had people sit down to receive the goodness of the Lord, both physically and spiritually.
And often the Scriptures will say things like, “they ate their fill,” which demonstrates abundance. Not bare minimum, but abundance. It’s a demonstration of God’s character. When we pause and look, His triumphant abundance is embedded in His Creation. He didn’t just create trees–He created thousands of different trees. Some bloom in colorful flowers, some bloom in fruit that we can eat. He didn’t just create a blue sky–He created an organic, always moving sky that changes colors, brings in rain that nourish the ground–all kinds of abundance and beauty.
If we are going to fully experience what Paul talks about in Romans 1, then we have to go get out in it. Experience it. See it. Smell it. And be restored by the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living in which He created.
Many of the Men of ROD have never truly rested and experienced the beauty of the Lord in His Creation as a regenerated soul. I don’t know if you’ve tried to sleep in a prison or at a homeless shelter–but it’s not exactly an optimal environment for rest. Our bodies need dark, cool, quiet spaces in order to activate the brain chemicals that take us into deep, restorative sleep.
None of that is present in those type of environments. No blackout curtains. People snoring, moving, talking–LOUDLY. When our men leave prison into our care, not only has life beat them up quite a bit, but they’ve hardly had a good night’s rest in years, maybe ever.
I don’t know about you, but one bad night’s sleep for me and I’m on edge and irritable. Compound that by years, and you’ve got one messed up lady.
Jesus knew that humans must meet the physical need first if we are ever to be able to dive down deep into the spiritual. That’s why our men right out of prison get time to rest. They still work on various projects. They still do their work to get their documents in order and begin to build a resume and enter into productive vocational training programs. They are still on strict schedules to ease them into daily living on the outside with daily Bible based discipleship and teaching, but mostly they get to rest and begin to truly heal.
This 6 month reentry foundation of rest does wonders for our men who enter our Aftercare Program. They’ve never been taught that rest is Godly. They’ve been in survival mode. Maybe since they were born.
Stress Wacks Us Out
The truth is, our bodies were not designed to be exposed to the powerful chemicals of stress and anxiety for long periods of time–especially starting young. Chemicals like cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenalin were designed to flood our system and then retreat.
When we are exposed to the stress chemicals for prolonged periods of time, our bodies are like a cartoon clock with all the wheels and wires popping out. This is magnified when this chemical response is triggered regularly in young, developing brains. It sets people up for all sorts of maladaptive coping mechanisms, self-medicating, and errant behavior and choices. This process of stress activation and coping is not just affecting those in prison, on the streets, or in shelters. It affects and hinders all of us. Our men just happened to have been caught in their maladaptive behaviors.
Many of our men tell us that they had to go to prison in order to truly find Jesus and to begin to heal. Many of their powerful testimonies that can be heard every month at our Prayer Breakfast , every third Saturday of the month.
There is usually a thread that runs through all the testimonies: The Gospel. I’m a sinner. I’m in deep need of a Savior. He had been pursuing me all along. I just couldn’t see it. I had to come to the end of myself. And when I did, my eyes were finally opened. Now I can see. Now I want to see. I am now transformed, not perfect, but made new in the Risen King. Now, I have to learn to walk like it. Talk like it. Live like it.
Our Executive Director, Dr. Jeffery Parker, often says, the “Restoration” in Restoration Outreach of Dallas (ROD Ministries) is not just for our men. It’s for everyone who comes in contact with us. He couldn’t be more right. I’ve been restored through ROD. Families are restored through ROD. Relationships are restored through ROD. My Bible Study girls have been restored through ROD.
Every time our little group is called into action at ROD, the Lord speaks deeply into our hearts and minds. We leave a different way than we came–a concept I learned at a prayer breakfast. Many of our volunteers and Board members have been with us for many years. People don’t leave ROD. Not totally. They may roll off the Board or graduate our program, but it’s the Body. A community of real, transparent Believers in the Risen Christ. We invite you to join us. Come to a Prayer Breakfast. Invite a friend, bring your wife or husband. Come join the ROD table and be fed, physically and spiritually by the hands and feet of the Word of God in and through His people.
Because we know the importance of sabbath and experiencing God’s beauty, we work to provide our men many opportunities to experience life as God intended in order to begin to build their own. One way we do that is by our yearly ROD Lake Picnic. Dick and Catherine LeBlanc generously open their Cedar Creek Home to us and we get to have a big ROD Family Picnic on the lake.
Board members, Volunteers, and ROD Men all get together with our families and enjoy one another out at the lake. Many of our men never knew that life can have moments this good!
We are looking for ROD Family Picnic Sponsors in order to help support our growing needs of bus transportation to and from the lake, a children’s program so the adults can visit, and food and beverage costs for our growing numbers.
If you, your company, or someone you know would like to find out more about our needs and becoming a sponsor, please contact Kelli Macatee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-632-2089.