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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Get Ready ... Get Set ... Rest

By S. Robert Maddox
Mar. 16, 2014

While overseeing a Bible college, I reached the end of a school year feeling exhausted. My wife and I decided to take a weekend trip. We made reservations at the Relax Inn.

After checking into the hotel, we found an out-of-the-way place to eat and decided to retire early the first night. The bed was hard, and the pillows were flat, producing a restless sleep. The previous guest had left the alarm clock set, and we were startled awake early in the morning.

The second morning, a fire alarm went off while we were dressing, requiring us to walk down six flights of stairs, vacate the building, and stand in the rain.

Although scheduled to spend another night, we decided to check out early. The Relax Inn was not very relaxing.

I suspect you have your own stories.

What is often referred to as leisure in our culture can be far from restful and would be better called discretionary time. Weekends are quickly becoming busier than weekdays. Rest and relaxation are lost arts.

During three decades of vocational ministry, hard work was my constant reality. I cannot recall a time when I held only one job. A six-day workweek was standard; numerous weeks lacked any days off at all. There were three separate years when I did not take a single vacation day; other years involved only one week.

I eventually had a nervous breakdown.

In almost every profession, people feel a mandate to be high achievers, an inward pressure to constantly produce meaningful results. While God is all for a job well done, He is not pleased when a hustle-bustle way of life dictates an unhealthy, assertive mindset.

In his Gospel, Mark offers a key example of Jesus’ approach to both ministering with excellence and taking needed rest.

 “The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves” (Mark 6:30-32, ESV).

This narrative is interesting because, very much like my failed attempt to enjoy a weekend getaway with my wife, Jesus’ attempt to get the disciples away for a period of rest ended up failing on the surface. In Mark 6, you find Jesus and the disciples facing the need of a multitude with full-throttle ministry — feeding the 5,000.

But the principles expressed in verses 30-32 still hold true. Like the disciples, we may not be able to rest successfully in the moment. But we can apply these principles repeatedly until needed rest comes.

Do you need rest? Are you failing to have a weekly restful day? Is your weekend filled with different but equally exhausting activity? Jesus showed His disciples how to gain a renewed perspective and a revitalized life.

Jesus said, “Come with me.”

Jesus does not say, “Go away,” but “Come with me!” The Lord needs to be included. As you temporarily remove yourself from places of constant responsibility, look for those quiet places where nothing will interrupt your time with God.

Early in ministry, I went to the church office intending to first pray and meditate. Once there, however, things on my desk distracted me and time with God was pushed aside. I now take my personal time with Jesus early each morning at home, at a time and location that leave my attention undivided.

Where do you go to find time with the Lord? It need not be far, just far enough for Him to have all your attention. It need not be for a long season, just long enough for Him to renew your perspective.

Jesus said, “Come by yourselves to a quiet place.”

A solitary place of renewal is increasingly contrary to today’s lifestyles. People rarely go anywhere alone. Visit a community park and observe the sitters, walkers, and joggers, either by themselves or in a group. Take note of all the iPods, iPads or iPhones. A generation afraid of silence has arisen.

Noise robs communication with God and the ability to clearly hear His voice. Quietness is vital. The place of rest should be free of interference. Scripture declares, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

God created you to occasionally need those “alone places” with the Lord, places without annoying static. In solitude you can see yourself solely in relationship to Him, where the purpose of your life can be refined.

But remember that Jesus spoke to the disciples as a group. God’s “alone place” for you may include a close friend, a spouse, a sibling or child. Such “partners in solitude” can help you maximize your rest if you have a common heart to seek God.

Jesus said, “Get some rest.”

Resting does not mean lying in a perpetual hammock — that’s more accurately called laziness. Rest involves three things:

Healthy food. Your outlook is influenced by what you eat. Heavy doses of sugar and fatty foods do not lend themselves to resting.

Physical exercise. A rapid flow of blood cleans out toxins that can dull your thinking. Exercise makes the heart pump faster, the lungs breathe harder, and restores a more wholesome point of view.

Sound sleep. Slumber clears confusion and lifts the fog that can prevent you from seeing life clearly. You are designed to dream, which only comes when sleeping.

Rest is designed for short, focused periods of time. Rest stops are a seasonal retreat and not meant to become new worlds. Stop for a moment but do not drop out of the race. Allow God’s seasons of rest to re-energize your service to Him.

Come away with the Lord to a place of solitude, go alone or with a trusted companion, and return with renewed perspective and greater dedication.

“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

S. ROBERT MADDOX is an author and speaker, ordained with the Assemblies of God, who lives in Ozark, Mo. He blogs at



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