"And 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 NKJV)
I wonder if you remember these words addressed to the disciples by Jesus before the multiplication of the loaves? Usually at this time of year we look for a destination where we can restore ourselves, a destination where we can unplug and recharge from our many commitments. Rest is not lazing around, gloating with nothing to do. On the same day that Jesus invited the disciples to rest, he engaged them in the distribution of bread and fish to a crowd of more than five thousand men. So much for rest. Here then is how rest is for looking at God and marveling at his compassion and holiness (Exodus 31:13). When we get out of the hustle and bustle of daily life, the stress of church goals to be achieved at all costs, and instead celebrate His compassion, placing ourselves solely and exclusively at His feet as Mary did (Luke 10:42), everything changes for the better.
Going back to creation, when God told the world to exist, and saw that what was created was good and very good when man and woman were created. On the seventh day, when he decreed rest, he recommended, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God ..." (Exodus 20:8-10). In Egypt, the Hebrews were robbed of rest: they had to work tirelessly, trapped in a system that exploited them. God did not stand by and freed his people from slavery, leading them into the desert, where he was able to celebrate the Sabbath again. He asks the people then (and us today) to adhere to the day of rest, a day that eliminates all inequality because it is for everyone. The system of a weekly day of rest for all had no equivalent in any ancient civilization. The Greeks thought the Jews were idle. God gave us a day of rest to interrupt in our favor the cycle of work and the consumerist lifestyle in which we are enveloped. The day of rest is not tied to a specific day of the week, but should be differentiated from other days, allowing us to do in it what we fail to do during the week.
When you fail (because you do not want to) to do a certain action, you dump nonexistent responsibilities on time, which is not ample enough to meet all your needs. I am sure that compared to previous generations we have much more time on our hands, enjoying tools and means that make it much easier for us. We are living in an era where everything is just a click away. Apps and services abound that allow you to do everything from the comfort of home. All you need is a connected credit card and you don't have to worry about anything-from food to furniture, books to cars. Nevertheless, we are constantly rushing from one place to another, from one activity to another, to the serious detriment of our serenity. We are frantically overburdened, to the point of struggling to pray and read for only a few minutes (this devotional takes only 4). We should not let our busyness (and every day has its own!) condition us to the point of determining our being or the quality of our living, to the point of depriving us of our spiritual relationship with the Creator. If God gave us the "Sabbath" it is to preserve our freedom in the midst of a relentless society of demands and pressures. And sometimes, without realizing it, the church community becomes capable of the same. This was rebelled against by the apostles with the institution of deacons (Acts 6).
I recall a story from the desert fathers, "Rabbi Levi was on the side of the road when one day he saw a man running by. Rabbi Levi turned to the man, "Why are you running?" "I run to reach my good fortune, I run to reach God's blessing, I run to reach what God has set before me." In his wisdom Rabbi pressed him, "But why do you run?"" As long as you run God cannot give you what He has arranged and prepared for your life. He Himself will not be able to reach you. Stop and allow Him to catch up with your life!
Weekly Bible Reading Plan #33
August 07, Psalms 72-73; Romans 9:1-15
August 08, Psalms 74-76; Romans 9:16-33
August 09, Psalms 77-78; Romans 10
August 10, Psalms 79-80; Romans 11:1-18
August 11, Psalms 81-83; Romans 11:19-36
August 12, Psalms 84-86; Romans 12
August 13, Psalms 87-88; Romans 13