Jesus recognised the need for his disciples to rest
7 MINUTE READ
I am created in God’s image.
Have you stopped to consider every aspect of this truth – that you are created in God’s image? Being created in God’s image has direct implications for how I live my life. That is not new information for anyone who has spent any time immersed in Scripture or engaged in corporate worship and biblical teaching. The question which comes to mind, though, is have we really thought this through as it applies to every aspect of our lives?
Recently I read a great book1 that has shaped my thinking regarding how I view busyness and hurry, in light of being created in God’s likeness. The ebb and flow of day to day and week to week calls me to reflect my godly nature and the person that God is leading me to become. What does this mean? What is the ebb and flow we observe throughout the scriptures, beginning right in the beginning?
“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:1-3)
For me, this is an immense challenge. I work as an Emergency Physician – there is no ebb and flow, there is no “rest”, it is a 24/7 job that overflows and fills my non-rostered days alongside my rostered workdays. I am also a wife, mother and daughter, a friend, a worship leader and sometimes a writer. These roles, too, can call on my time 24/7. I don’t think my “brain” ever turns off – it is constantly solving, planning, processing… It is EXHAUSTING. I am exhausted.
“Jesus, himself, took time away from the crowds to rest. He recognised the need for his disciples to rest.”
I have been socialised to believe that I must be busy, serving, doing, caring, to have value. Yet this flies in the face of what I know in my heart – I am created in God’s image, and I am enough. No amount of doing or “not doing” can change that I am unconditionally loved by God. Added to this, God calls ME (and you) to REST. How can I learn to rest – how can I break this endless rush of life, the lack of ebb and flow, the constant drive to busyness, the pull of social media, the artificial availability at all times of day and night, thanks to our “connected” society?
Jesus, himself, took time away from the crowds to rest. He recognised the need for his disciples to rest. “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.” (Mark 6:31) Now that resonates with me – sounds like my every day – so many people coming and going, so many demands on me and my time, so easy to be pulled into feeling the need to be constantly busy and serving that I don’t even take the time to eat or nourish myself. God has challenged me to hear that invitation of Jesus to his disciples – “Come with me by yourself to a quiet place to rest”.
“…so many people coming and going, so many demands on me and my time, so easy to be pulled into feeling the need to be constantly busy and serving that I don’t even take the time to eat or nourish myself.”
God has led by example – He has instructed us to rest, He has given us, as an example, the life of Jesus which clearly demonstrates that rest should be a priority. We can’t deny Jesus’ “work” was important, that He had many demands on his time and gifts to offer, that He could have ‘worked’ 24/7 to serve those who needed him, but He chose not to. Jesus must have felt the pressure to perform – He only had a short chapter to fulfil God’s calling on His life. Yes, Jesus chose to seek rest and solitude. He walked away from the crowds so that He could be restored, rested, and in tune with His Father. Jesus knew that this was a necessary part of His humanity – to rest. To be courageous enough to put aside the “to do” list, the responsibilities, the “musts” and “shoulds” to be able to give the best of himself when called upon. He needed to be rested.
How can we be reminded of this truth in our day-to-day life, with our day-to-day hurry and constant distractions? One of the challenges offered up by Pastor Mark Comer, in his book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry1 was to reclaim the Sabbath as a day of rest and freedom from work and distraction. Obviously, the practicalities of how this might look are different for everyone, especially, if like me, you work a 7-day roster. However, it is worth considering. I tried it. The challenge was to turn off my mobile device – no SMS, no Facebook scrolling, no WhatsApp, no keeping up-to-date with my daily influx of emails. I managed for most of a single Sunday, but I have not revisited the challenge. It was so very hard. Yet it gave me a peace and a time of rest and real connection with my God and my family when I didn’t have the distraction of the devices and the way they act as a conduit of all the “work” that remains outstanding. This trial of “disconnection” from the world, and reconnection with the biblical “sabbath” was a stark reminder of how challenging I find it to rest, to set apart time for restoration and reconnection with God. Comer calls us to “slow down and simplify our lives around what really matters.”1 So, it is time to ask myself, what is it that really matters? The things that really matter to me are relationships – relationship with God, relationship with my family and friends. It is certainly not constantly “doing”. How can I best be present in these relationships? I need to slow down, simplify my life, be rested, “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”1 But how – how do I rest? I am still working on that, but I think it starts by recognising my busyness, slowing down, and choosing not to do things so I might have the margin to embrace rest, solitude, and time with my God. What does that look like for you?
Let me encourage you to take hold of God’s promises over your life. Take hold of the words of Jesus: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message)
Dr Faye Jordan Dr Faye Jordan works as a Staff Specialist in Emergency. Faye has been a believer since her high school days, having been brought up in the Uniting Church, but coming to faith through the Christian group at school. She worships at her local Baptist church where she is actively involved in leading worship.
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- Comer JM. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook; 2019.