Come and Rest
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 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.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Jesus knew the value of resting. He never went a day without taking time out to pray and reconnect with God who could recharge Him. As busy as Jesus was, He found the time to rest, get some sleep and re-energize His body as well as His spirit. We often read the health benefits of resting our bodies. It protects the heart, boosts the immune system and helps fight against colds, it helps our memory, and it helps us to think clearly and make better decisions. It also helps fight against depression. Resting helps the same spiritually as well. Jesus knew that ministering to people all day as the disciples had done, would drain them and they needed rest.
Jesus knew the value of resting because He needed to do it as well. He faced many of the same things in His life and work as we do in ours. On a daily basis we can face many stresses such as family problems, time limits and deadlines, negative words and actions of other people, etc. Jesus and His disciples also had to face a long work day (maybe worse for them as they had to walk from place to place in the heat wearing long sleeved robes!) and had to deal with some irritable and judgemental people who criticized the work they were doing. No matter if it was back in biblical times or in our current time, it’s all the same…we face physical, spiritual and emotional stresses on a daily basis and must take time out to rest our body, mind and spirit. We must take time out to be with the Lord because He knows exactly what we are going through because He already went through it. We must be careful of those people who want to push us to the point of physical, spiritual and mental exhaustion in order to reach their goals. This is not biblical nor is it healthy. Will there be times when we must push ourselves further in order to spiritually, physically, or mentally grow instead of remaining stagnant? Yes! Will there be times when we must push ourselves further in order to meet a deadline? Yes! Will there be times we must push ourselves further in order to resolve situations? Yes! There will always be exceptions, but that’s not what I’m talking about. We must not allow ourselves or others to push us beyond the point where we jeopardize our relationship with God and family and our health (spiritual, physical, and mental).
God allowed Elijah to rest and had him eat and drink after he ran a hundred miles to get away from Jezebel after she threatened his life. Although Elijah just had a great victory for the Lord, fear had come upon him after receiving a word from Jezebel’s messenger that she was going to kill him. God could have been upset with Elijah for leaving his post and running in fear. He could have criticized Elijah for not being a strong man of God. He could have shamed Elijah for not having enough faith. Instead, God knew the mental capacity of Elijah at this point and chose to allow him to rest and then sent an angel of the Lord to wake him up twice and tell him to eat because he had a great journey ahead of him as we see in 1 Kings 19:5-8:
Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.
Once Elijah got to the mountain of God, he learned a great lesson on the voice of the Lord as we see in verses 11-12:
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
There are many misconceptions of God and some people have painted a picture of Him as someone who will yell at us in this loud, booming voice when we do wrong. He is the God who wags his finger at us and will punish us in our weaknesses, difficulties and failures. He’s the God who will make us feel guilty for our wrongs and will throw it back at us from time to time. He’s the God who will stop using us because we make mistakes and therefore will leave us when we are bad. That’s not God’s way, but it is the enemy’s way and he will do it through other people. We often see people react this way when we make mistakes, have difficulties or have weak moments. God, however, knew Elijah’s mental state and dealt with Him with love and compassion.
In Isaiah 42, it gives a description of the servant of the Lord, Jesus, many years before Jesus birth. In verse 2 it states:
“He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.”
So, in the Old Testament we see God’s voice as a still, small voice. In the New Testament we see Jesus as someone who didn’t raise His voice (except maybe when He was knocking over the tables of those selling goods outside the temple). Does this mean He is a weak God? Far from it! It means He is a God who knows how to work with hurting, rejected and fearful people. He is a God of love, mercy and forgiveness. He is a God who knows how to be a leader and what is needed to get people motivated. Sometimes we think we have to yell, pound on peoples backs (symbolically) and shame them into doing what needs to be done or what we want them to do. Again, that’s not how God works, but it is how the enemy works. However, although God is loving and merciful, the fact remains He does not tolerate sin and will not allow us to retreat forever when we decide to run from our problems. He knows that while good nourishment and rest is needed to help us re-energize and get focused once again, we must face our problem and get back in the game or we will stay in our comfort zone and never want to leave it. He is a God who expects obedience from His people and will allow us to face the consequences if we do not change our ways. We do this as parents so there should be no reason why we wouldn’t expect it from God.
Rest is a very important part of any journey, be it physical or spiritual. Jesus did it and He encouraged others to do it. God did it in Genesis 2:2 when He was creating the world:
“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”
Does God need to rest? No, but even He sees the value in it and sets the example of it since the beginning of time. If He encourages resting and sees the value in it, why do we feel we shouldn’t rest or need to?
We must remember that any vehicle will run out of gas eventually if we don’t fill it up from time to time. The same goes with us. If we don’t take the time to fill ourselves up with prayer and reading the Word of God, then we will run out of gas and be stuck, unable to move any further. Like any vehicle, if we do not take the time to do maintenance on ourselves, then eventually something will break and cause damage to us.
Take time today to stop what you are doing and rest. Find the time to be alone and rest. Then take the time to re-connect with God and get recharged. It can make a huge difference in every aspect of your life. If God saw the value in it, then you should too.