Everyone talks about it, but how many of us actually practice it?
Lately, I’ve been having moments when I just feel exhausted. It hits me like a rushing wave. I even think, “I just need to sit and be still awhile.” But when I do, I instantly think: “Am I forgetting to do something?” or “What should I really be doing right now?”
I’m guessing that most of you can relate to feeling exhausted at one time or another. Maybe you’re physically exhausted because you’re up with a new baby. Maybe you’re mentally worn out because you are under a lot of stress at work. Or maybe it’s emotional as you process the death of a loved one.
Because we are all human, we are all subject to exhaustion. For me, I’ve been feeling mentally worn out. This is something my husband does not understand, but I think other moms will. It is mentally exhausting to keep track of 5 different schedules, make meals, clean the house and try to make sure everyone has a little fun here and there, right ladies? By 9 at night, my brain has had enough. At that time, you can find me vegged out on the couch, watching a show that requires no mental strain. My thinking portion of the day is over.
Since we are all human, and everyone is busy in their own ways, I think it would do all of us a great deal of good to take a few weeks to examine rest. Rest is not a foreign concept to our God, even though He never gets tired (Psalm 121:4). God knows we need rest; He designed our bodies that way. We must sleep in order to perform our daily tasks and carry out our lives.
We all know we need to sleep, and sometimes what we really need is a nap or a good night’s rest. But sometimes, the rest we need must come from somewhere else.
In Mark 6 we find a passage of scripture where Jesus mentioned rest. His 12 disciples had just returned from mini missions trips. Jesus had sent them out to perform miracles and tell others to repent and turn to God (Mark 6:1-12).
In verse 30, the apostles had just returned from their trips. Can you imagine their exhaustion? The disciples had traveled from village to village on foot, not knowing where they would sleep each night. They were probably running on adrenaline and the excitement of sharing the gospel with others. So when they returned, Jesus was ready with just what they needed.
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat. – Mark 6:31, NLT
After their long period of work, Jesus knew His disciples needed rest. In the NIV it reads, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Jesus’ invitation was not just for His disciples on that specific day. God’s word is alive and active (Heb. 4:12), useful for teaching us and correcting us even now (2 Tim. 3:16).
Jesus extends the invitation to us. He knows we need rest. He says the same thing to each one of us. “Come away with me, by yourself, to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Rest from our Work
Jesus knows that we need to come to Him for refreshment, renewal and rest after we have put in a long day’s work. That was the case with the disciples. They had just had an amazing experience, but they needed to recuperate.
Our bodies are not capable of going 100% all the time. When we don’t spend time with Jesus, we are not spiritually recharged and reinvigorated. We miss out on our source of strength, help and power. Without Jesus, we will never find the rest our soul’s truly long for.
Rest for our Future
If you read on in Mark 6, you find out another reason why rest time with Jesus is so important. The disciples were about to be a part of another miracle; Jesus was about to feed the 5,000+ with only 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.
We must come to Jesus for rest so He can fill us with what we need for our next assignment. Now, this doesn’t have to be a miraculous event like the disciples witnessed. As a mom, my next assignment is the next day. In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” While this does acknowledge that God provides for our physical need of food, it also points out that God provides what we need daily. God operates one day at a time. He gives us what we need for the day ahead. He doesn’t dole out what we need for the entire month, so we only have to check in every once in a while.
Think of it like this: God is not like a gas station. We don’t just stop in once a week when our tank is completely empty. He’s like a stream. He wants us to have a steady flow of Himself. And when we come to Him daily, we are more aware of the stream of God’s love and grace. Even if you can’t physically sit with God all day, you can communicate with Him throughout the day.
Our God desires relationship. He knows that daily rest with Him is what satisfies us and prepares us for our futures. It is those times of quiet that Jesus can teach us and show us what we will need to know for the day ahead.
If you don’t have an intentional quiet time with Jesus, might I encourage you to start one? Jesus is calling out to each one of us and longs to gives us rest from our weariness. As I write more about rest in the coming weeks, I’ll offer some more ideas of how to have a quiet time with God. But in the meantime, just talk to Jesus. Go off by yourself, in a quiet place, and just rest at His feet.