Do you need a break? Some time to get away from life and recharge?
I don’t know about you, but my week has been a packed one. Busy with school, work, extra projects, and various meetings. I’ve been feeling exhausted and burnt out, like I just want to crawl into a hole and not come out for a while. I’m sure at some point you have experienced this feeling; some of you may even feel this way on a regular basis!
The society we live in today is very “go, go, go”. We are focused on high productivity, fast results, and instant gratification. We become stressed when we don’t accomplish the list of things we set out to do at the beginning of the day; and sometimes we push ourselves so hard that we forget simple necessities like food and sleep.
I want to take a few moments here to step back and reevaluate. Is this the way life is supposed to be? Were we created to be constantly consumed with “what we must do next”?
Do we need to take breaks? Do we need to say “Time Out”?
Before we dig into what God has to say about this, I encourage you to close your eyes for a moment and take a deep breath. Maybe even let out an audible sigh.
Lets look at how God views the concept of rest..
Read: Genesis 2:1-3
So if you’re not familiar with the story of Creation, to summarize, God spent 6 days creating, working, designing every detail of the earth and its inhabitants. This included plants, animals and human beings! Then, on the seventh day, God decided to rest from work, to take a break, and simply enjoy the work He had done. God rested because He was satisfied with the work He did, because it was just the way He planned it, it was good.
The God of the universe, our Creator, set aside a whole day to rest. Not only does God think that rest is OK, He embraces it. There is something special we need to notice about the day that God rested from His work: He made it holy, set apart from all the others.
Lets look at another time God chose to take a break…
Read: Mark 6:31-32
Just before Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the 5000, He specifically tells His disciples to take a break, “to rest a while”. I think Jesus and the disciples were having one of those really busy days, the kind where they forgot to eat! This story really shows us how much God cares about our physical health, He doesn’t want us to get so caught up in life that we neglect eating, and taking time for rest. This verse also specifies the importance of “getting away” when taking time for rest. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to be alone in the middle of nowhere; but instead it shows us the need for new scenery. Taking a break shouldn’t feel the same way every day life does. Our surroundings affect our emotions, and Jesus recognizes this. Don’t you think its interesting that Jesus said “come…to a deserted place”? Why deserted?
There have been many studies on how clutter affects the mind. Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published the results of a study they conducted that relates directly to uncluttered and organized living. Here’s what they said:
Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex, providing a neural correlate for the limited processing capacity of the visual system.
To break it down, when the environment around us is cluttered, the chaos restricts our ability to focus. The clutter also limits our brain’s ability to process information. Clutter distracts us and and makes it hard to process information as well as we do in uncluttered, organized, environments.
Think about this in the context of Jesus specifically stating the need for rest in a deserted place. A deserted place is free from clutter, unnecessary distractions, and loud noise. It is a calm, serene space, that invites our minds to let go of chaos and embrace peace. Jesus knew it would be easier for His disciples to relax in a place that was away from the crowds; separate from the busyness of marketplaces, commuters, and daily life.
Read: Psalm 23:1-3
Here David paints us a picture. Maybe a quiet mountain top, with lush green grass. A lake surrounded by trees and forest, a little bird chirping overhead. Then David says, ‘while I am here, in THIS place, the Lord restores my soul’.
God encourages us to take breaks. He offers us rest, a break from every-day busyness to enjoy the gifts we’ve been given, to be replenished, refreshed and restored.
Read: Matthew 11:28
I love that the language Jesus uses here implies something deeper than physical rest. As we have clearly seen, God wants us to physically get away from busyness and chaos to rest; and He also wants us to experience emotional rest as well. I don’t really think Jesus is talking about people who are carrying heavy loads on their backs here, hunched over and struggling to walk down the road. I feel that He is speaking to those of us who have burdens on our hearts – worries, anxieties, stresses – He wants us to be free from those burdens, and He wants to give us rest.
Check out this amazing promise in Hebrews…
Read: Hebrews 4:9-10
Here Paul is making a really awesome comparison. He brings us back to the beginning of time, when God rested on the seventh day; to highlight the special significance that when we choose this same rest that God participated in, we are becoming more like God. As Christians, that is our goal right?
This theme of rest is so prevalent throughout God’s plan for humanity. As Christ followers, we should welcome moments of quietness and peace because they are the moments in which we hear God speak.
Our culture says: productivity and speed!
God says: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)
Don’t accept the “norm” that society sells – busy is not best.
To be still, and to know, that dear friend, is true rest.