This past weekend I was on a retreat for work. I mentor college students through one-on-one and group settings, and this past weekend, I was in the mountains with my coworkers and about 30 students from across the city of Denver.
We had beautiful weather, the peaks were covered with snow; we laughed and spent time playing games, but mostly, we rested. We rested from deadlines, to-do lists, classes and tests. We rested from the busyness of life, school, work, and the hustle of living in a city. We rested from what the world tells us we should & shouldn’t do and who we’re supposed to be & not be.
Our focus was on simplicity – on how to live a simpler life amidst all the chaos our world throws at us. We talked about how rest and Sabbath are good gifts and how we have to practice them because they don’t come natural to us.
One of my coworkers explained resting like exercise – he said we have to work, tone and build up that muscle and it takes time. I love that.
We also discussed how it shouldn’t take a retreat for us to rest, but how we need to incorporate it into our daily, weekly and monthly lives. Scripture teaches us a lot about the balance of work and rest. Here are a few examples:
Mark 1:35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
Luke 5:16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
Luke 6:12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God (emphasis mine).
In these examples, Jesus had something important he needed to do for his work and ministry after he retreated to the mountains, the wilderness and/or woke up early to pray. After he woke up early when it was still dark, his apostles found him and began saying that everyone was looking for him and Jesus insisted on traveling to the next town to continue working and teaching. Before Jesus slipped away to the wilderness, he healed a man with leprosy and afterward a huge crowd was trying to follow him. And after he went to the mountains and spent the entire night in prayer, he chose is closest disciples.
Some of these were major turning points in Jesus’ ministry, but all of them focused on how he rested in his Father’s presence. Jesus knew he needed rest and prayer to continue doing the work he was called to do.
If Jesus, who is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, and infinite in glory and grace, needed to spend time by himself and rely on His Father, then we most certainly do too! Interweaving rest and prayer into our work is necessary; it’s imperative if we want to continue doing the good work set out before us & strive towards living a wholehearted life.
As I mentioned, our resting muscle needs to be worked on, practiced, and built up before we’ve reached a point in our work where we feel like we are thriving and have the strength to endure. No matter where you are on the spectrum: having a great balance of work and rest, or just started learning about healthy balances of work and rest, think of these 4 things I’ve listed below as a good start or an encouragement to switch things around!
- What are things in my current week that are life-giving? Draining?
- Why do these things bring me life or drain life from me?
- What do I truly enjoy doing?
- How can I incorporate it into my daily and/or weekly schedule?