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Sunday, June 3, 2012

"Come, Sit, Stay" (Ellen Vaughn)

TITLE: Come, Sit, Stay: An Invitation to Deeper Life in Christ
AUTHOR: Ellen Vaughn
PUBLISHER: Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2012, (272 pages).

This book is an expository journey through one of Jesus' most famous words in Matthew 11:28.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28)

I like the overall progression of coming to grace, sitting in attention, the staying to obey, culminating in a rest that is filled with trust and blessing themes. It begins with the author's personal struggles with burdens, exhaustion, desperation, and a sense of hopelessness. For some reason, Ellen Vaughn becomes fixated on the words of Jesus, and instead of jumping forward to the next verse, she pauses at that verse. With intense concentration, she begins to take the verse word by word, meaning by meaning, and move intentionally toward meditating, chewing, and praying over it. As she finds her soul refreshed and encouraged, she shares the whole process. This book is about that process.

Part One is about the coming to Jesus just as we are. It is a royal summon that we simply cannot resist. It is an urgency to come to Jesus. It is recognizing that the Master is calling. The people that Jesus spoke to during that time are extremely tired. Our culture is not very different from then. Vaughn helpfully puts down four kinds of burdens. The burden of sin, of shame, of shoulds, and of suffering. These four burdens are essentially things that wear us down and there is no way in which we can escape these burdens on our own.

Part Two is about the discipline of sitting and waiting, in contrast to the temptation of touching and going in a rushed mode. Jesus calls us to pay attention in contrast to the world's distractions. The question posed to us is why are we so easily tempted by the world? Why are we having an ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)? Being able to sit at Jesus' feet is an intentional decision toward a deep and rich spiritual life in Jesus. It helps us to be still. It helps us to be still in all circumstances, even when the hurricanes of life storm in. In sitting down to count the costs, one gains the right frame of mind in Jesus. We learn life on Jesus' terms, not our terms nor the terms of the world.

Part Three comes naturally from sit. No longer distracted, one is able to stay and linger in the presence of God. Staying is active, not passive. Stay in anticipation of a great love. Vaughn brings in the Johannine image of abiding in Christ. Enter and remain. Abide in Jesus and letting Jesus abide in us. When one recognizes true freedom, one is free then to be unleashed. One learns that the Christian life is not about rules but about relationships. The amazing change of heart is that one begins to feel less of Jesus wanting us to remain and sit with him, and MORE of wanting Jesus to be with us. It is a happy desire that refuses to let Jesus go. Jesus has become a friend that we long for more and more.

Part Four talks about the true rest, the fruit and the delight of all the actions. Rest is not a spiritual 'neutral' but an active joy. If the first rest is offered by God, the second rest is found by the believer. This is where the moment of Shabbat comes in. References are made to Hebrews 4 on the heavenly rest.

Further Thoughts

This book is an excellent guide to helping believers become more restful in God. Too often, Christians have paid lip service to the promise in Matthew 14:28 that they are unable to truly rest, themselves being easily distracted by the cares of the world. Ellen Vaughn, like a masterful spiritual guide gives us a simple method that is biblical and practical for the layperson to practice. She provides steps for readers to follow, stories to illuminate the points, and multiple references to reflecting on God's promises in Jesus.

If I have one criticism, it will be the title itself. The words "come, sit, and stay" are common commands that are used to instruct dogs. There is even a website in Denver (www.comesitstay.com) that is dedicated to the care and love of dogs. Even the cover has a picture of a dog! While dog lovers may appreciate the image of a dog and the message of rest, not everyone appreciate the application of a dog image to human matters.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Worthy Publishing and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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