Our lives require balance. When we lean too far in one direction, it affects our stress levels, our health, our energy, our mood, and our relationships. From the very beginning, interwoven into the creation story, God prioritized rest. Rest did not follow expulsion from the garden when humankind was told to “work the ground” for survival (Genesis 3:24–25). No, rest predated the fall. It was a part of the balance that God called good.
After spending six days forming the earth and everything in it, God took a break and called that break holy. Allowing ourselves rest falls into rhythm with God’s pre-fallen creation. Just as God did, we need to be intentional about taking a break. Whether it is work, service, or creativity, we cannot continue at one hundred percent effectiveness without learning to refill. Scripture gives plenty of practical examples of how to develop this rhythm in our own lives.
Jesus’s ministry lasted three years. In that short amount of time there was a lot to get done. He called the disciples, developed a following, preached, visited the sick, confronted authority . . . the list goes on. Yet he was never rushed. He even made time to stop for weddings and dinner with friends.
Jesus modeled for each of us how to rest.
- He took time to be alone in prayer with God.
- When others demanded his presence and the crowds be came chaotic, he withdrew to the quiet (Luke 5:16).
- When he was tired, he even took naps (Mark 4:35–41). He led not just by example but also through his words
There will always be a to-do list waiting in the wings. Luke 10:38–42 gives us the story of Mary and Martha. Both women loved Jesus dearly. Mary sat at his feet soaking in his words while Martha busied herself about the kitchen in service. Though there was much that needed to be done to be a good host, Jesus told Martha she was “anxious and troubled about many things” and encouraged her to sit and simply be present (v. 41). People are not tasks. Sometimes we forget this truth, checking them off our to-do-list as we perform acts of service.
How often in life are we so distracted by the need to serve others that we forget to simply be with the people we are serving?
We are called to love people, to give generously of our time and talents. To do this we must be at our best. To be generous with our time, we must create margin in our lives to allow for the unexpected. When we fill our to-do lists to the brim and avoid rest, we miss out on the fullness of God’s goodness. Remember to balance service with rest, just as Jesus did.