Mark 6: 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
While most athletes know that rest days are important, many athletes over train and actually feel guilty when they take a day off. This is unfortunate and unwise since sports medicine experts unwaveringly espouse the need for rest. Building recovery time into any physical training program is crucial because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real benefits of training actually take place. Recovery days allow the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissue. This is critical because exercise actually causes changes in the body such as muscle tissue breakdown and the depletion of energy stores (muscle glycogen). Without sufficient time for tissue to repair and replenish, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise. In other words, workouts alone with no rest actually cause a net damage rather than a net gain.
If you are involved in ministry work (as an aside, as believers we are all in “full time ministry” and should be ministering for God) you are susceptible to breakdown and depletion of energy. Jesus understood this well. There are numerous times documented in the gospels where Jesus retreated. In the scripture above in Mark 6, we read of the feeding of the five thousand. This account tells us that Jesus and the disciples did not even have enough time to eat themselves. Jesus recognized this was an issue and beyond just addressing the immediate situation, I believe he was teaching his disciples a very important ministry lesson – rest is critical! “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Actually doing this, removing oneself from active service, can be very difficult, especially for hospitable people. The need will never end. There will always be someone who needs help. How can we abandon them? Jesus recognized his own human frailty and certainly recognized this in his disciples and he demonstrated that there is a time for rest, a time where we need to be spiritually and physically restored.
God himself demonstrated the principle of rest right in creation. Even the great creator of all we see and beyond, rested on the seventh day and he made this a command for his people. Who better than our creator to tell us what our body needs, what our spirit needs?
Make sure you are taking time to escape to a place of solitude. And when you do so, make sure you are spending quiet time with God. Jesus spent significant time in prayer speaking with his Father, and we need to do the same. Our alone time may be very different from our brothers and sisters in Christ. Most Christians don’t understand that my favourite God time is spent trail running in my favourite forest. I spend considerable time talking to Him and listening to Him while my heart is racing. For others this would certainly not be rest and yet their God-time may not be rest for me. How we rest, how we spend our alone time with God is a unique experience and one which we must individually discover with God. The important principle, however, is that it happens.
Jesus extends an invitation to all of us. Are you listening? Are you acting upon it?
“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. (Matthew 11:28-29)