“…learn from Me, …and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 (NIV2011)
In His Divine invitation to rest, Jesus said something that really caught my attention. He challenged the disciples to learn from Him how to rest. As the Creator, He understood how difficult it is for most of us to rest. Like pregnant pauses, most of us are uncomfortable with taking a whole day of Sabbath rest. We don’t know what to do. Before we know it, we’ve become distracted by all the things we need to get done and we’re back to work. So much for a Sabbath. I know how challenging it is. My mind wants to keep going and I struggle with slowing down to be still and rest. Jesus’ own disciples struggled with this as well. Charged with emotion and the exhilaration of just returning from a season of miraculous ministry encounters, Jesus told His disciples what must have seemed so counter-intuitive to them.
“Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 (NIV)
They must have thought He would have been so excited about what they had been doing, as they were spreading the Good News of His coming, that He would have listened to their stories and then send them back out to do more. But Jesus knew they needed balance. They needed to learn the rhythms of grace in ministry or they would burn out. It’s true of life as well. We can’t always keep going and doing. More is accomplished when we do less and give ourselves the Sabbath rest God designed for us.
In His instructions to His disciples, we find some of what we are to do when we take a Sabbath. I love the way the NIV translates this passage because it begins with what we need if we are to take a real rest. “Come with Me by yourselves….” The Sabbath was designed by God for man to be with God. It’s His opportunity to refuel our souls! This is done in two ways. The first is when we get alone with God. Our souls need time alone with God. In addition to a Sabbath, my soul needs time alone with God each day. Do you have a daily quiet time? This 40 Day God Hunt Soul Safari is a great way to begin a regular habit of learning to be alone with God and His Word. Let His Word refuel your soul with the personal insights He wants to share with you by His Spirit. Many people choose to take their Sabbath on a Sunday since most people are off that day. It’s a great day to draw near to God both individually and corporately. Rest can be experienced in fellowship with other worshippers as well. In fact, the Bible says in Hebrews 10:25 (NCV), “You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other….”
Part of your Sabbath should be spent in worship and fellowship with others. Sunday is a great day to begin. Some may choose to do that Saturday and make that their day of rest and worship. For those of us in vocational ministry, we often choose Mondays since we work on the weekends. Whatever day you choose, set it aside as holy unto God. Draw near to Him in worship and set aside your daily routines. In the old King James Version of the Bible, Mark 6:31 said, “Come apart into a desert place, and rest for a while.” One old evangelist, I heard, said that Jesus told His disciples to come apart so they wouldn’t come apart! God designed the Sabbath to keep us from coming apart!
Then Jesus said, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place….” in this passage. You need a quiet place to rest. Turn off the noise, the cell phone, the TV and rest in stillness and solitude. It will recharge your emotions. It may take a while to get used to quiet. If you’re the mother of a toddler or preschooler, you’ll enjoy it, but you may have to rise early to get it! Better yet, schedule that time with your spouse or a friend, to share the load, so you can take a break. You need it and they’ll benefit from you getting your Sabbath rest! Practice relaxing. Like spiritual breathing, you exhale all the stress and inhale God’s rest and comforting presence – His Spirit bearing witness with your spirit that you are His child and He loves you. Finally, in this passage I find one more lesson that Jesus taught His disciples. When we come away with Him in worship to a quiet place, we need to rest our bodies. The Sabbath was designed to refuel your soul, recharge your emotions and rest your body. It all begins by coming to Christ. That’s the personal invitation Jesus offers you and me. Will you come? When you do, you’ll learn to rest.