It’s Thanksgiving in America this Thursday. Many of us will be cleaning and cooking up a storm in preparation of friends and family gathering to celebrate. Some will be driving for hours just to get to the gathering, others will sit with their cat and eat take out at home. In our own way we will practice hospitality this week. Whether it’s the traditional sense or the philosophical sense of the word.

I believe it is equally hospitable to be the one opening the door of home to another as it is being the other who is walking in. It is hospitable to show up and bring some life to the party, and maybe a bottle of wine. It is also hospitable to the person who is grappling with stress, anxiety, and triggers to stay out of the crowds and limelight of the drama that is family during the holidays. To stay somewhere safe with someone safe and continue to care for a mending inner-life.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to look like the Norman Rockwell paintings or the popular Hallmark movies. As long as there’s love, grace, and gratitude it’ll be a good day. Hospitality will be achieved.

All this holiday preparation has got me thinking, how might I make this Thanksgiving hospitable to God? I know I’ll do my usual devotional in the morning, I’ll pray over the day as I make the morning pastries for everyone to munch on while the real meal is being made. I’ll pray over the dinner when we’re all sat around a moderately beautiful spread. But is that really hospitable to Him? Is my house a place where God feels welcome and like He might come and find a place to rest?

I was reading through some of the Psalms last week and was moved by this passage from Psalm 132, “Let us go into His tabernacle; let us worship at His footstool. Arise O LORD, to Your resting place, You and the ark of your strength. Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Your saints shout for joy.” (Ps. 132:7-9 NKJV) First we enter His presence, then we worship, and in that presence and worship God arrives to a place of rest. As the LORD rests with us in this shared presence and the transformation that happens while we worship whole-heartedly, we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus and shout for joy. Right in the middle there, it says that God finds a place to rest.

I wrote about the temple in a post last year (Temple), and how we’re meant to be the living temple where the Holy Spirt can dwell. But I never considered the dynamic of the Holy Spirit finding rest with me. Admittedly, I’ve spent more time thinking about the rest I get out of my time with God.

I recently heard a talk given by the pastor of Upperroom Church in Dallas, TX, Michael Miller. He talked about rest in the context of the creation story and Sabbath. God didn’t rest until the work was finished. Man lived with God in the Sabbath, they did stuff from a place of completeness. That is, until the Sabbath was broken by sin. A new work began, the work of redemption. That work was finished on the cross and we entered a new time of Sabbath with Jesus. We can operate from a new place of completeness. Pastor Miller talked about how when the gospel really takes hold in our hearts and we can “Do from the Done.”

The rest is in the wholeness found in redemption. The rest is meant to be rest from strife, and to live life out of the peace of Christ. This rest goes both ways. When we are transformed by the redemption of Christ, not only do we find rest, but the Spirit finds rest. His work is finished and He can rest from it.

When I allow Jesus to work His resurrection power through every part of my heart and life, when I find that peace that passes all understanding, I find rest. My little part of the temple can be a place hospitable to the Holy Spirit where He can find rest as well.

Just like we saw in Psalm 132, something happens during worship. I believe it’s the work of salvation in me. The work of the Holy Spirit happens in His presence, in worship, every day. It has been my experience that healing can be found in worship. The many pieces of my broken heart quietly clicking back into place during worship.

So I keep going back to His presence. I keep praising Him regardless of what the day looks like. I want to be hospitable to the Holy Spirit, to find rest, but also to give rest to Him by allowing Him to finish His work.

-Etta Woods


“Rest Series Part One – Michael Miller” UPPERROOM Youtube Channel. 2018.