Step Away And Rest
With Thanksgiving and Christmas falling so close to one another on the calendar, the days and weeks of November and December tend to be filled with activity. Parties need to be scheduled, work needs to be taken off, presents need to be purchased, cards need to be written, pictures need to be taken, food needs to be cooked, conversations need to take place, decisions need to be made — and all of this on top of our day-to-day activities. It’s the most wonderful, but also the most busy, time of year.
Perhaps some of you are just recovering from the events of Thanksgiving weekend. Lots of time with family, hours of driving in the car, emotional stress of talking with those you perhaps haven’t seen or heard from in a while. It’s a lot. And now with the Christmas season around the corner, we might feel like there’s no time slow down.
It’s a unique day today, the time between. How will we stop, check the engine, and plan for putting on more miles?
Rest Like Jesus
Our answer, for today, comes from the book of Mark. And it’s fitting for us because the book of Mark has a pace that often mirrors that of our own lives. It’s fast, action-packed, and nearly leaves its readers gasping for air with each turn of the page. But near the middle of the book is a scene that seems to stick out like a sore thumb. Jesus’s disciples had just returned from being sent out on mission. Stories of Jesus’s miracles had been spreading, and so people are everywhere. There’s work to be done, people to be taught, food to be prepared, things to do.
And yet, you can almost see it, Jesus raises his hand, quiets his disciples, and says, “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. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves” Mark 6:31-32.
What did they think about while they were on the boat? Jewish men, as they were, they likely knew many Psalms, perhaps they considered:
Maybe Psalm 62:1-2 - “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”
Or Psalm 4:8, “In peace, I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 23 - “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides quiet waters, he restores my soul.”
Psalm 46:8-10 - “Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. ‘Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’”
Or Matthew 11:28-30 - “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.”
They were with Jesus. They were away from the chaos, away from the work, and with Jesus. We need this, daily, especially this time of year.
My exhortation to us today is to find one promise, more if you’d like, but at least one to be your anthem, your banner, your truth-reminder, from here until the new Year.
When Should you use it?
It could be in the morning, you slept past the alarm, you still need to get ready, the cars not starting cuz it’s like negative 70 outside, and the kids are sick.
It could be in the afternoon, during the lunch break as you recover from a stress-inducing morning filled with projects and meetings.
Or perhaps once the kids have gone down for a nap and the dirty dishes in the sink or toys on the floor are screaming out to you, “keep working, don’t stop!”
Or it could be in the evening, when your eyes grow tired, the day is done, and you need Jesus to remind you that he is the one that will sustain you for tomorrow.
Brothers and sisters, this holiday season, far greater than our need to schedule parties, plan meals, purchase gifts, write cards, wrap presents, is our need to be alone with Jesus.