In A Passionate Life, Mike Breen and Walt Kallestad ask, “Consider your own lifestyle. Do you try to rest from work or work from rest?”
“In the midst of our frenzied activities, it seems we are always trying to “schedule” a few minutes of rest. Or we work until we drop, then convince ourselves that we’ll take a few hours off or even a whole day and be ready to plunge right back in. But is that the best way to rest? Or is that even rest at all? Could it be that because of our work habits we are becoming emotionally, physically, and spiritually drained human doings? At this rate, how fruitful are we ever truly going to be? Jesus taught us something very different. Life—real, true, abundant life—only comes as a result of living in the natural rhythm with which we were created. Resting in God—abiding in his presence—is the only way we can be successful in what he has called us to do.”
The true sign of godliness—imitating God –is to pattern our life after him, and for God, rest is vital. On the seventh day He rested and so did Adam and Eve; the commandment to keep the Sabbath is right up there with “Don’t kill, don’t steal, and don’t commit adultery.”
After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, he didn’t immediately launch his public ministry. Instead he went into the desert for 40 days, being tempted by Satan but made strong in the Spirit. He was alone, away from people, spending time with God.
In Mark 1:35 we hear, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” But the disciples didn’t get it. In the next two verses: Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
In Mark 6:30-32, we see the apostles gathered around Jesus and reporting to him all that they had done and taught that day. Then because so many people were coming and going that they didn’t 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 is trying to teach and train us how to be like him just like he did with the early disciples; he’s helping us to learn to work from our rest.
For three years, I’ve stuck to a pattern of working from my rest. I awake early for 30 minutes of Bible study and meditation and then I participate each day with others in a 30-minute service at 7AM at St. George’s Episcopal Church. In the evening, the last 20 minutes of my night are spent again alone in prayer.
Won’t you join me in your own life rhythm of starting each morning in prayer and meditation, either alone or in corporate worship? Maybe your life season doesn’t permit you to attend church every weekday morning; how about once per week or once per month?
“First we rest in God’s presence and then we go about the work that he has asked us to do.”
I pray that we open our mornings and close our evenings, resting in God’s presence.
Blessings, my friend,
**Excerpts from a Sunday School class taught by Rev. Leigh Spruill, October 30, 2011 on the Gospel of Mark.