For many of us, summer brings a time of rest. While we’re still students, summer affords an opportunity to sleep in, perhaps go on vacation, or maybe even get a temporary part-time job. Even if we work full-time, we might take time off to relax, travel, or spend extra time with friends and family. We may also find time for rest on evenings and weekends throughout the year. What do we do with this time? How can we make the most of it?
God’s Word has a lot to say about the topic of rest. In fact, in the very first chapters of the Bible, we read of rest. Scripture tells us in Genesis 2:2 that after God worked and finished creating the universe and everything in it, “He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” In doing this, He provided an example for us to follow.
God continued to place importance on rest, which is why He instituted the Sabbath for His Old Testament people, the Israelites. After bringing them out of Egypt and providing them manna from heaven to eat, God commanded them to rest on the seventh day, saying, “‘See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.’ So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 16:29-30). God had a plan for His people, and that plan included rest.
Our best example from Scripture is always Jesus. As a man, Jesus was subject to the weaknesses of people, which included the need for rest. We often think that we are busy. In fact, we probably tell others often just how busy we are, but it’s unlikely that we’ve ever been as busy as Jesus was during His earthly ministry. His days were filled with preaching, teaching, healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding large crowds of people, and often being surrounded by multitudes.
In Mark 6:7-13, we find the account of Jesus sending out His disciples to work for Him. He sent them out in pairs to preach the gospel of repentance, and He equipped them with the power to cast out demons and heal the sick. When the disciples returned from their travels and told Jesus what they had been doing and how they had been working for Him, He said to them, “‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31). Later, the multitudes returned, and after teaching and feeding them, He sent His disciples and the crowds away. Then “He departed to the mountain to pray” (Mark 6:46).
In this account from Scripture, we find at least two wise ways of how we can use our time of rest. The first is the example of the disciples. They took time to be with Jesus. They had been busy working for Him and doing what He commanded them. When they finished what they were doing, they came back to Him and told Him about it. We know from other accounts that they sometimes returned with questions. They used their free time to be with their Master. We can do the same. Free time is an excellent opportunity to open God’s Word and read it slowly and prayerfully. Perhaps we can listen to a sermon that was meaningful to us in the past. Spending time with Jesus also means spending time praising Him. We can lift our voices and sing His praises. If we play an instrument, we can use our gift to glorify Him. It can be especially reviving to spend our time with Jesus outside in His creation. Go for a walk and think of His Word. Sing a song aloud or in your head while you admire a scenic view. Read Scripture outside in the sunshine.
The second example is seen in Jesus’ actions. He used His free time to pray. Even though He was God, He still set the example for us and took time to pray. He desired to commune with His heavenly Father. On several occasions, we read how He took extended periods of time to pray, like when He prayed before choosing the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12-13). He also prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for strength before His arrest. His Father heard His prayer and sent an angel to strengthen and revive Him (Luke 22:41-43). God continues to strengthen and revive His children today when they come to Him in prayer. He invites us always to come to Him and seek His help. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Of course, we are always invited to spend time with Jesus and to go to Him in prayer, not just on vacation or when we happen to have free time. However, when we designate time to rest, the best thing we can do for our soul is to use some of that time specifically to draw near to God and be revived inwardly so that we’re better prepared to face the work and the challenges that lie before us.
Karina Knelsen, Seminole (USA)