And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
Last week I shared a wonderful evening with some of the team of ladies who participated in a recent leadership trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. They visited the Gateway campus there and attended Scottsdale’s first Pink Impact. I had planned to be a part of that gathering, but due to the timing of my treatments, I ended up staying home. We gathered to share a meal and talk about their experience.
The team went with the intention of serving. The goal was to be available and to do whatever was needed. Upon arrival it was pretty clear that the Scottsdale team was on top of all the details. They had done a fantastic job of raising up leaders, executing their vision and preparing for the hundreds of ladies who were participating. As a result, the Texas team found themselves with an opportunity to simply receive.
This unexpected turn of events left each of them with an opportunity to enter into what God was doing. As each of them shared, I heard them begin to testify about the unexpected impact of resting in the presence of God. Some talked about the refreshment, some about how unexpected chains were broken, some about hearing God in a new way, some about the reminder of their first love. They all testified that they were deeply impacted, returning home changed in unexpected ways.
One of the team talked about the concept of forced rest in an athlete’s training program. It seems that there is a general understanding that an athlete must build breaks in their training program as a planned part of getting stronger. It’s the basic principles of resistance training. You stress your muscles one day and rest them the next. During the rest the muscles actually grow larger and stronger.
Most athletes know that getting enough rest after exercise is essential to high-level performance, but many still over train and feel guilty when they take a day off. The body repairs and strengthens itself in the time between workouts, and continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes. Sportsmedicene.com
I realized in that moment that both the team and myself had been led into a moment of forced rest. They by a lack of responsibility. Me by a lack of health. In both cases God was prescribing the same treatment. As they found their hands empty, their hearts began to fill up. As I surrender to the “battle plan” before me, I begin to turn the tide of my crisis toward health.
What if Jesus wants to invite all of us into a season of rest? We call it Sabbath. Just think – every week He commands that we would pause to rest. We can do it out of obedience or we can push ourselves beyond the limits of our physical, emotional or spiritual strength and find ourselves staring “square” in the face of a situation which debilitates us. For me it’s a health crisis. For others it might be a failing marriage, a financial disaster, a loss of passion or a sense of hopelessness.
Genesis 2:2-3 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
The Bible says that the seventh day – the day of required rest – is both blessed and holy. (Shh – this is a secret – I have believed the seventh day is nice, wasted and for the weak.) I have been so foolish. I have been afraid to rest because I don’t fully trust that God can do more without me than with me. I have believed that the blessing only comes through works.
I pray you will surrender to rest long before you are pressed into it by destruction, loss or fear. But even if it’s too late for the rest that comes by choice…even if you are like me – receiving a mandate of rest like a prescription to recovery – our God is so faithful. We can receive the same benefit as my friends did while in Scottsdale. As we empty our hands and cease striving, He will heal us and He will do so much more. Soon we’ll be testifying of the unexpected and completely luscious blessing that comes from resting in Him.