Rest Is Non-Optional – Are You Listening?

Cathy and I hope you had time during the summer months to take a break for rest and re-creation. One of the greatest challenges for me has been to follow the example of Christ and His disciples. Jesus always observed the Sabbath, and He took time for His ministry team to rest on other occasions.

I once heard a preacher say, “Jesus had the disciples come apart, before they came apart.” Ministry burnout is avoidable. I have been there before, and I can tell you it is a work of the flesh. Jesus leads us into abundant life, and He never drives us to exhaustion.

Rhythms of grace is a message Apostle Fred Bennett continues to share with us, and one I have had to learn the hard way. We will always do our best ministry planning, and leading after a season of rest.

Matthew 11:28-30 MES ““Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

As a younger minister I thought I was indispensable, or that rest was selfish, or even wasted time. More caffeine please. But looking back over the years I realize I could have saved myself, and my family, and my church, a lot of wear and tear if I had taken time to tarry.

Biblical rest is about finding a rhythm. It is a rhythm of God’s grace. A rhythm is intensity followed by relaxation, and we can find in everywhere in God’s creation.

Your heart beats, and then it rests in-between the beats…a rhythm. This is why blood pressure has an upper and lower number. Otherwise your circulatory system would be constantly stressed at the upper limit…not a good thing.

Exercise, such as weight lifting, is about exertion followed by a resting moment so oxygen and glucose can feed the muscles that just lifted the weight, and lactic acid, the by-product of exercise, can be released.

Breathing is a rhythm of inhaling and exhaling, and in-between an interval of rest. When you inhale there is oxygen being off-loaded to the bloodstream to provide life to the cells. There is also a reverse process whereby carbon dioxide is transported from the blood and exhaled by the lungs.

A lot is going on during the interval of “resting” by the lungs. You see, rest is not about just resting. It is about a rhythm that is necessary to process things and keep us healthy.

This is what Jesus meant about the Sabbath being made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. In other words, we all need a pause in our week to recharge for the next week. Six days we work, but the seventh we rest. The failure to do so means vital processes don’t occur that are meant for our spiritual renewal and well being.

I have also learned that we not only need daily rest and weekly rest, but we also need seasonal rest. Vacations are good. Three day weekends are good. But if you don’t put them on a calendar and protect them, they just don’t happen.

Calendaring is an essential discipline for those needing to find balance and health. No condemnation if you are finding it hard to find a stopping place.

The Fall is a good time to try again. God has put it in my heart to help ministers succeed where I have failed, and this is one area I have failed miserably, and still struggle from time to time.

My appeal to you is to please take care of yourself. Please take care of your marriage. Please take care of your family. Time passes so quickly that the “round-tuit” you kept promising can slip away from you.

We can’t go back and change yesterday, but we can begin today to plan a better tomorrow. Are you listening?

I am praying for you. Call me if I can help mentor you in this vital area.

All for Jesus,

George Black