If you had 30 minutes to do whatever you wished, how would you fill the space? Most people think about doing a specific task. Others try to cram an hour’s worth of work in that timeframe. Few choose rest.
Did you know that rest occurs more than 500 times in the Bible? Yet, we hear about it far less often in our modern world today. We value work so much that rest eludes us. For many, it’s an unattainable luxury. If rest depicts a key part of God’s design for us, why do we struggle so much to rest?
In the fast-paced, driven culture in which we live, what does rest really look like?
The Gospel of Mark presents rest in a refreshing way. In chapter 6, Jesus sent out His disciples to preach repentance, to drive out demons, and to anoint and heal the sick. Dispersed two by two on mission, the disciples worked long hours and didn’t even have time to eat (see Mark 6:30). They returned to Jesus with stories of the power of God at work as they ministered in the Galilean towns.
Recognizing their exhaustion, Jesus invited them to go away with Him to a quiet place. Jesus understood their human limitations and finite capabilities. He knew that the disciples needed rest—physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.
Many people speak of Jesus’ invitation to rest using this verse from Mark 6:31. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” What a lovely invitation! Who would deny such a welcome break after a long span of work?
The verses following Mark 6:31 intrigue and excite me. Jesus issued the invitation to rest, but then nothing seemed to unfold as planned. The disciples and Jesus got into a boat to head to the solitary place, but the crowds recognized them and followed them so that by the time the disciples and Jesus arrived to shore, a mass of people awaited them.
Wait! What about rest?
Jesus saw the crowd and extended compassion toward them. Was the invitation to rest abandoned along the way? Was their rest sabotaged by the people who pursued Jesus? Or, did Jesus invite the crowd into their rest?
Together the crowd and the disciples lounged in the grass as Jesus taught them. The people dropped all other activities in order to learn from Jesus. He taught them, and even miraculously fed 5,000 men plus women and children (see Mark 6:35-44). The hungry disciples even enjoyed the hearty meal as well. Jesus issued an invitation to His disciples for rest and that objective appeared to have been interrupted. How do you handle interruptions to your plans for rest? Do you invite the interrupters to join in rest with you? Interruptions happen. Do we need to welcome them so that others may enter into rest with us? God’s design for rest is for everyone.
When we return to the story in Mark, we surmise that the disciples likely experienced rest while on the boat. In plain terms, their rest was time with Jesus on the journey. Too often, we tend to think of rest as a destination though, don’t we?
At least half of the disciples were fishermen, so maneuvering and rowing a boat would have been familiar and comfortable, maybe even restful. My husband, Gary, and our son, Sammy, would undoubtedly concur. They are fly fisherman, and they consider angling, being on the water, to be one of their greatest forms of rest. Notice that the disciples’ work changed from preaching, ministering, and healing to a space for being, reflecting, and receiving. The disciples found rest on the boat ride. They were together with Jesus.
Being in the presence of Jesus is rest.
So, what if rest is less about the destination and more about the journey? What are ways to respond to Jesus’ invitation to rest in the interludes of life? How can we experience rest with Jesus in the midst of full-time work, plus family commitments, household responsibilities, and church or other dedicated time for ministry service?
What might it look like to give attention to being, reflecting, and receiving with Jesus in the daily rhythms of life? I believe our days contain interludes for rest with Jesus, but only if we attune our souls accordingly.
- Pick the “wrong” line at the grocery store? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Stuck in road construction? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Bed-ridden while battling an illness? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Is your flight delayed? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Waiting in the car pool line? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Watching your kid’s sports functions? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Sitting at the dentist office? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Walking the dog? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Needing a nap? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Riding the chairlift up the ski mountain? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Cooking dinner in the oven? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Tidying up the house? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Waiting on hold on a phone call? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Reading with your child? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Opening the Scriptures for study? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Reflecting with God in prayer? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Listening to worship music? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
- Watching the sunset from the porch? – Rest, Reflect, Receive
Too often we seek rest in activities that really are not restful. Moreover, rather than look for rest in the interludes of life, we tend to numb out with social media or video games on the phone, computer or TV, binge on TV shows from Netflix or Hulu, and zone out with the news or talk radio. In the end, our souls remain restless. We hunger for more because God designed us for more—for rest. Real rest is not found in these activities. Our soul experiences rest in the presence of Jesus.
The purpose of rest is refreshment. Consider, what truly refreshes your soul?
Experience Jesus’ invitation to rest. When interruptions occur, ask others to rest with you. Find rest with Jesus on the journey, in the interludes of life. Thank Jesus for His companionship and presence with you. Talk with Him out loud; tell Him about your work. Reflect on life with Him. Receive His care for your soul. Encounter rest with Jesus.
Just as the disciples in the boat enjoyed an interlude with Jesus, savor time with Jesus and rest in the space between destinations.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
My soul finds rest in God alone.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
Shelly Miller. Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. Bloomington, MN, 2016
A. J. Swoboda. Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World . Grand Rapids, MI. 2018.
Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.
October 14 – Colorado Springs, CO
Retreat Speaker, The Bridge Church at Bear Creak
October 18-21 – Hot Springs, VA
Retreat Speakers (Gary and I), CBMC President’s Council Retreat