Rest seems to be a thing of the past in American culture these days. I remember a commercial for a phone during the Olympics that exaggerated our busy, multitasking lifestyle. While there is most definitely a time to work, there is also a time to rest.
The Gospels don’t go out of their way to document every time that Jesus went away to rest or pray. Instead, for the most part, it documents the important monuments, miracles, and prophecies fulfilled. So honestly, I think the fact that the idea of getting away is mentioned a few times should mean something to us. It seems like we often focus on the active part of serving and ministry so much that we forget about the rest and time with God part. It’s the aspect that prepares our hearts.
Rest comes first. When Jesus fulfilled the Law, keeping the Sabbath was left in place. Why? Because it’s a rhythm we need; life was made to be lived with a day of rest. Burnout is inevitable if we ignore the call for a Sabbath day of rest. (Matthew 12:1-8 shows us Jesus’ heart.)
The disciples had gone out to preach and heal and drive out demons. When they came back, Jesus “said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” – Mark 6:31
So they got in a boat and crossed the sea. When they got to the other side a crowd awaited them. Jesus had compassion and taught them, then ended up feeding them by the miracle we now know as “the feeding of the 5,000.”
“After bidding them farewell, He went up on the mountain to pray.” – Mark 6:46
Jesus was doing incredible ministry, which I’m sure was tiring… Then He just steps away and goes off to a place by himself to be with God. How often is that our thought process? I can see how God is working through this situation, let me just shut it down and leave to go be with God one on one. I might feel feel obligated to stay and see what else God would do, or I might just want to chill do nothing, including spending time with God. Jesus knew the alone time with the Father was the best use of time in this instance.
Also, it’s notable to mention that before heading off to be alone, Jesus sent the disciples by themselves in a boat to travel back to the other side of the sea. (Then the storm whips up and Jesus is walking across the sea and Peter steps out of the boat and walks to Him…)
So anyway, getting away from the business of life is important. I’ve heard suggestions such as turning off your phone and electronics one day a week, periodically going off to a wilderness place by yourself, sitting down to dinner with friends and family, and even just little stuff. Robin Jones Gunn wrote in an interview at the end of her book, Cottage by the Sea,
“She and I also made ourselves promise that just like the women in Canary Island Song we would show ourselves a kindness once a month. I’ve done things I’d never allowed my busy little self to do before, such as getting a facial and going to the movies in the middle of a perfectly good workday. My friend Jill calls this “mental health improvement” moments.
It makes me think of how Jesus told his disciples to “come apart and rest a while.” My husband is a counselor and he reminds me every now and then that if we don’t “come apart” we may soon find our lives are about to “come apart.” The interesting thing to me is that I love what I do. All of it. Writing, speaking, traveling, and entertaining in our home.That makes it even more essential to learn how to set an internal timer that goes off and says, “Stop what you’re doing and go put your feet in the sand and just listen.”