Cultivating Rest

“And he 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).

I like the story in Mark when Jesus told his disciples to come away from the crowds and rest for a while. As Jesus’s ministry became busy, he was daily thronged by the crowds who wanted to see, hear and touch him to get healing from all of their infirmities. He modelled for his disciples the need to take the time to rest in between ministry in order to prevent burn out. Even God himself in the creation story worked six days and then on the seventh day rested. I don’t believe that God was tired, but he wanted to model for us the necessity of rest and recovery.

You cannot work seven days a week and have a balanced lifestyle. If you do then one area of your life is bound to suffer as well as your health and emotional well-being. Along with the weekly rest on weekends, most companies have built in annual leave for people to schedule breaks from work to recuperate. Solomon spoke of the importance of a time and place for everything which includes times for work and times for rest. We have to learn to be kind to ourselves and listen when our body is saying that it is tired and needs rest. Some people are a bit more hyperactive or energetic than others and different personality types prefer busier over sedentary lifestyles.

Some cities and countries have different levels of productivity and cities have prized themselves on being ‘the city that never sleeps.’ Some people even brag about being able to survive on a few hours sleep daily. Even the bible warns against these lifestyle practices and encourages rest and sleep. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2). Yes my friends, sound sleep and rest is recommended in scripture.

Beyond the concept of physical sleep is the concept of rest which comes from learning to be content. This is because it is possible to sleep and still feel tired because we are unsettled. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). This also comes from being at peace with ourselves and with God. This happens when we have prayed about everything so that we don’t hold unto any anxieties. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).


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