Recently a friend and I were discussing boundaries, enabling others, and resting in service, a.k.a. ministry, to our church. Per your request, my friend, this blog is for you. I cannot begin to cover everything in one short blog. Perhaps, I will share more on these topics at a later date. You asked me one question as I was getting out of your car, “Did God take time off?” I smiled and said, “Of course he did”. Let’s begin there; did God take time off? Did Jesus take time off?
Many Christians have been taught, or believe, serving Jesus means serving at all costs; even if it leads to burnout. I know I once did. God never called, or calls us to burnout. His word says, “His yoke is easy and his burden light” – Matthew 11:30
Genesis 2:2 “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Was God’s work 100 percent finished? Would he never do work again? Of course not. His work of creating was done. Does he still work today? Of course he does. God rested from his work. Resting is important, so much so, God declared a day of rest for mankind; “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…. ”God not only rested, he expects us to rest. He knew it would be a challenge for us to rest, so he made it a command.
Jesus taught the disciples to rest. In Mark 6:30 the apostles have been out and about doing the work Jesus had called them too. They gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. I suspect they were sharing with great enthusiasm and joy. In the course of sharing they mentioned, “that so many people were coming and going they did not even have a chance to eat.” Jesus didn’t give them lots of at-a-boys, way to go, or pats on the back for their self-sacrificing service to him. Instead he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Jesus recognized the apostles need for rest. Don’t miss this… their reward was a time of rest with the Lord, himself.
Jesus modeled withdrawing from busyness, from doing ministry, a.k.a. God’s work, and from others to spend time in rest. In his times of rest Jesus withdrew to lonely places, in other words alone, spending time with father God through prayer.
- Matthew 14:23, “after he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.”
- Luke 5:15, “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed out of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
- Mark 1:35-38, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed; “everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “let us go somewhere else-to nearby villages-so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.
In the Mark passage we see Jesus understood his priorities, his calling, and he knew how to set boundaries. Priorities are shown as he… Awakened early in the morning while it was still dark… He withdrew to a solitary place… He spent time with the father here… His companions found him and wanted him to go about things they thought he should be about, as is evidenced by their comment, everyone is looking for you. Jesus understanding his purpose, his calling and knowing how to set boundaries was not swayed from his purpose. He reminded the apostles why he had come and continued on in that purpose.
God is more concerned about our relationship with him and our obedience to his purpose for our lives, then us filling our time with activities, which we think are important and we choose in service to him. God wants us to allow him to choose for us. We cannot hear him if we do not rest in him. We cannot hear his voice if we do not draw away from our busy lives (all those things, all the people, all the noise which demands our time) and spend time listening to his voice.
Resting allows us to shift our attention from activity to relationship. We can keep our eyes on Christ instead of the busyness or circumstances of our lives. Again and again in the Gospels we see him withdraw from the crowds to go and pray alone in a quiet place by the lake, in the hills, in the desert, or up in the mountains. He shared his heart with the Father. He prayed and meditated on Scripture. He listened to the Father, submitted to his leadership, and obeyed. I suspect after these times of refreshing he returned restored, renewed and ready to complete the work for which he was called.
Yes, my friend, he rested.
Until next time,
“For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:10-11