Many times throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus pulled away from the crowds to be alone with His Father. He taught His disciples to do the same. To us, He also says, Come with me. Let’s spend some time together–just the two of us.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:31-32, NIV)
The above Scripture refers to a time when the disciples were weary both physically and emotionally. They had recently returned from exhilarating and exhausting missionary journeys, followed by the death and burial of their friend, John the Baptist. Jesus knew that their most significant need was rest—away from the demands of ministry and the people’s clamoring for attention. So He told them to come away with Him.
What about you? Do you ever, or maybe I should say, how often do you find yourself so busy that you do not even have time to eat? My answer, pretty often!
It is easy to become drained by the daily duties of life, overwhelmed by the monster troubles that sometimes assail us, even weary from the work of ministry. All of it can take a toll on our hearts, minds, bodies—and our relationships. When they do, we—need—rest. Both physically and spiritually. We cannot hope to cope without it.
I am driven to finish, driven to finish well (and first!), driven to get more done than thought possible. Lists are my friends, technology my best friend. What I can accomplish with a list on my iPhone is simply amazing. Do you know what else driven means? Perfectionistic, cranky, anxious, impatient, angry, frustrated, and controlling. The opposite of the fruit of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22. With all that is to be done, finding rest can be tricky. If I have any hope of reflecting the character of Christ, however, I must find a way.
I know for sure that the only place I can find rest for my soul is in Jesus. When my soul is at rest, I manage my schedule more effectively, and that ensures physical rest.
Jesus said, “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 11:28-30, NIV)
Jesus is not telling us to stop working. He is telling us that there is a way to work efficiently without becoming weary and burdened. He’s saying, “Don’t work harder, work better!” It begins by following Jesus to a quiet, solitary place on a daily basis.
My schedule is packed full; so for me, there is nothing quite like the stillness of the early morning. Much like Newton’s First Law of Motion [unless acted upon with force, an object at rest stays at rest; and an object in motion stays in motion], once my day’s activities start, it takes significant effort (force, even) for me to slow down and stop.
Morning works for me. You have to figure out what works for you. When you give undistracted time to Jesus, He can still your mind and give you the direction you need. You have to find your time and your place whenever you can. Early morning might not be the best time for you. It might be when your kids are napping or after your family has gone to bed.
Daily time with the Lord will go a long way toward giving you the mental and emotional rest you need to face each day. Sometimes, however, we need extended time away from our regular routine. At the end of every year, my sister takes a personal retreat to have undistracted time with the Lord and to evaluate different aspects of her life. It helps her focus on how she’s grown spiritually and what she feels God wants to accomplish in her life in the New Year.
Often a church’s women’s ministry will sponsor a weekend retreat. Time to escape the mundane activities associated with home life, to enjoy the fellowship of believing friends, and to be refreshed spiritually. Opportunities for solitude may include an early morning quiet time with a view from a panoramic window, a walk through a sunny field, or a quiet moment on a bench near a stream. You might even be able to catch a much-needed nap without children interrupting your sleep.
Maybe you can’t get out of town at this time in your life. Is there a quiet park nearby? On occasion, I enjoy grabbing a mug of coffee and taking it with me for a walk on a nearby nature trail. Usually no one is there except for me, and there are lots of pretty flowers along the way. It’s a great environment for a “prayer walk.”
If you like to run, load your tunes player with praise music, and spend 30 minutes worshiping the Lord while you work out some frustration on the pavement. Maybe digging in the dirt is your thing. Here in Texas, Spring is around the corner. Do your flower beds need some attention before spring planting? Pulling weeds can be a great opportunity to talk to the Lord about the things that are heavy on your heart and mind.
It is not easy carving out a chunk of time to get away; but if you can, the results are definitely worth it.
We are well into 2014—maybe even in the shadow of New Year’s Resolutions. (Do you remember yours? I admit; one of mine is still fresh, the other—not so much. It’s already in need of some dusting off.) While it’s still early, if you haven’t committed to daily, personal time with the Lord – do so NOW! Don’t put it off. Maybe this blog entry can be a force, bringing your motion of activities to a halt. If you are so busy that you do not even have time to eat, do whatever it takes to get away! The Lord will give you the rest you need. Yoke yourself to Him in order to accomplish what He wants you to accomplish, in His strength.
Remember the Psalmist’s reminder:
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalms 46:10)
Let the Lord be exalted in your life! As you live restfully, you will reflect the beautiful, peaceful character of Christ.
Chorus from “Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)”
In you I rest, in You I found my hope
In you I trust, You never let me go
I place my life within your hands alone
Be still, my soul