Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rest Awhile

                As I write this article, my family is making plans to take a family vacation.  We’re returning to a rental condo at Myrtle Beach, where we stayed a couple of years ago.  Owned by a Christian, the condo has inspirational artwork on the walls.  One simple sign has stuck in my memory for a couple of years.  It simply quotes Jesus as he was speaking to his overworked disciples, saying, “Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile (Mark 6.31).”  What a great verse for the wall of a vacation getaway!  What an important reminder at all times—whether you’re on vacation, staycation, or just going through your daily activities.  We all need a reminder to rest.
            Recently, I attended a pastors’ conference in which Clayton King, founder and president of Crossroads Camp and teaching pastor of Newspring Church in Anderson, SC, shared a message.  He reminded ministers of our need to do just that.  Preaching from 1 Kings 19.1-9, he spoke of Elijah’s need to get away, get alone, get honest, get rested and fed, get up, and get back to work.  Like Elijah, we can all run ourselves ragged.  Like that great prophet, we can experience highs and lows, spiritual ecstasy and the depths of depression.  God led him away to a secluded place so he could rest and so he could hear from God.  Only when Elijah did this could he hear the still, small voice of God speaking to his soul.
            As the weather warms and the beautiful days of summer get longer, you may find yourself needing to take a break.  Don’t worry—your work will still be there for you when you get back.  But you don’t help anybody when you burn yourself out.  Jesus invites you, His beloved, to come away by yourself with Him to a quiet place and rest awhile.  You may have the luxury of a lengthy vacation.  Or, you may find a few days at home to be just what you need.  If even that is impossible, try carving out a weekend, or simply a part of each day to retreat and reflect, rest and renew your spirit.
            At the same conference, Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love, and Chancellor of Eternity Bible College, quoted from Isaiah 30.11 (ESV), which says, “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’”  Chan emphasized the importance for all believers to return and recuperate in Christ.
            Jesus made a practice of withdrawing from the crowds and refreshing His heart by spending time with God and with his closest family and friends.  Elijah needed to withdraw to the wilderness and get with God.  Isaiah reminded God’s people to return and rest.  I hope this summer you’ll avail yourself of the opportunity to rest awhile.  I hope that in the quiet, you’ll find peace.

No comments: