Several months I listened to a sermon on the spiritual discipline of solitude. Oh, how my mommy heart loves that word! Just think, complete and absolute silence, with no interruptions, for more than thirty seconds!
I love my family so much, but lately, this solitude thing has been speaking to my soul. My soul longs for quiet, for a break from the chaos and noise, for rest.
I found it interesting that my pastor pointed out that as soon as Jesus heard about the death of his cousin and ministry partner, John the Baptist, he went to a quiet place to be by himself. Afterwards, while still likely in the midst of grieving his friend, Jesus found the strength to minister to those who needed Him.
Let me rephrase that – Jesus drew on the strength of His Father to minister to those who needed Him.
It is so easy for us women to overlook our need for solitude and rest. We feel guilty even thinking about it! But girls, our souls need it. In fact, God commands us to make the time on a regular basis to rest.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8, NIV)
This command is less about rules like don’t cook, don’t clean, and don’t go shopping, and more about actual rest. God designed us to work, yes, but He also designed us to rest. To stop and smell the roses, to take a break, to reenergize.
There are many days where I don’t stop going from the moment I get up in the morning until the kids are tucked in at night. At the end of one of those days I am beat. It is all I can do to look at my hard-working husband, never mind try to carry on a conversation with him. This is particularly difficult for him to understand considering he is a night owl and gets his second wind right about the time I am starting to entertain a certain set of woolly sheep as I gaze longingly down the hall and count the minutes until bedtime. Too many days in a row of this kind of activity and I am practically useless come the weekend.
But isn’t it amazing how after a week of productivity, just one day of relaxing and enjoying our families is enough to recharge our batteries and get us going again?
I am slowly learning to value this kind of rest and trying to incorporate it into my day as often as possible. I savor my coffee breaks, slow down during supper, and set aside my evenings as sacred. In practicing rest throughout my day, albeit in small chunks, I find myself much more capable of tackling that ever growing list of things to do.
Still, when I think about Jesus going off to find rest from the crowds, I wonder if it was more about finding spiritual rest than rest for His body.
Physical weariness notwithstanding, I imagine it was taxing on Jesus to do what He was called to do, day in and day out. We often forget that while He was God, He was still wrapped up in a human body. Sometimes I can’t help but marvel just at all the walking He did in one day! Add to that crowds of people constantly coming to Him, pressing around Him, demanding He heal their sick and dying. I know He was filled with compassion and love for these people. And I know that it gave Him great joy to do what the Father called Him to. Still, there must have been days He would have been so tired at the end of.
If Jesus needed to go off by Himself to rest, it makes sense that we would too. In fact, after the disciples returned from their first mission trip, Jesus invited them to do just that. “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, NIV)
Can’t you just hear Jesus whispering those exact words to your own weary soul?
“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, MSG)
We find rest, real rest, in God. Just like Jesus did.
I just love that.
No matter how busy we are, how long our to-do list is, we can find real, restorative rest in the One who knows what it’s like to be tired. In the One who created the world in six days and on the seventh rested.
Let us not get so busy that we miss the wonderful restorative power of simple rest. Let us make the time to go off by ourselves and be recharged by the One who gives us the power to do everything.
What is your favorite way to rest and be restored?