Jesus wasn’t worried about how to capitalize on the opportunity that day. He didn’t send the men back out to “take advantage of the open door,” “close the deal,” or “take it to the next level.” They weren’t tasked with the development of a thorough follow-up strategy.
No, when the disciples came back to Jesus with exciting results after the equivalent of a short-term mission trip, He said this to them: “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:30). Mark further explained that Jesus was responding to a situation in which “they had no leisure even to eat.”
Here’s an important question – can you picture Jesus saying that? More importantly, can you imagine Him saying that to YOU? Go ahead, try – right now. “Come away…by yourself…to a desolate place…and rest a while. Your life is so crazy, you don’t even have time to eat. That’s not good, and I am going to change that.” If your picture of Jesus DOESN’T include His concern for your level of rest and refreshment, then it isn’t complete. The Jesus of the Bible cares about those things.
On a recent Sabbath hike, I was by myself in one of those desolate places. I had discovered when I arrived at the trailhead that my chosen trail was closed, so I found a nearby fire road and had a “let’s see where this road goes” moment (my wife and kids are smiling at that phrase – it’s kind of a family motto). To my pleasant surprise, the road took me to one of the most beautiful sites I have found in a year of hiking. The Valley Forge Trail Camp had it all – picnic tables, a bubbling brook, cool breezes, Fall colors, and scattered leaves on the ground (the pictures are from that site). In a word, it was perfect. I walked no further.
After lunch, I did something I had never done before. I laid down on one of the picnic tables and soaked up the place for a half hour. I watched the yellow leaves falling, and learned that they fall in a wide variety of ways – some turn somersaults as they descend, others spin helicopter-style, and some just gracefully drift straight down. I never realized how noisy they can be as they bounce through the branches on the way to ground.
It was restful. It was refreshing. And I think that moment had the Lord’s fingerprints all over it, because He cares about those things. He is the One who said “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
I have concluded that the command to find rest in Him is the only one of God’s commands that I’ve ever taken pride in breaking. I’ve never been proud of my anger, or my lack of discipline. I’m not smugly satisfied in my pride or my lust – they embarrass me. But I have been proud of how busy I am – after all, that means I matter, right? Lots of people need me, right? I can’t rest, because I have too many important things to do. Right?
Wrong. When we are too busy to enter into the rest to which Jesus calls us, we are quite simply too busy. Which means we are probably doing stuff that He doesn’t need us to do, hasn’t asked us to do, and doesn’t want us to do.
Do you dare to pray a bold prayer? Try this one: “Lord, teach me to rest. Make me, like you made David, to lie down in green pastures. Restore my soul, like you restored his. And help me to be brutal with anything that gets in the way.”
He will answer that prayer. Because the God of the Bible cares about those things.