Jesus said to his disciples, “Come to me by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For many people were coming and going, and the disciples did not even have time to eat (Mark 6:31).
What’s your ideal vacation? Some of us can’t imagine anything more relaxing than lounging on the beach (or poolside if you prefer the serenity of stillness) and doing nothing. Period. Others favor a more adventurous approach. They want to see and do as much as possible in the time allotted. Whatever your style and pace, I’m guessing most of us have at one time or another experienced the jarring transition from vacation back to normalcy.
No matter how perfectly we planned the trip and no matter how many lifelong memories were made, the daily grind returns with a vengeance. Unread emails are waiting. Unresolved conflicts remain. Deadlines loom. We find ourselves scanning the calendar to see when we might find space for our next vacation! Alas, such is the fleeting nature of this life.
But here’s some really good news. Jesus promises we will find lasting rest and renewal in him—and in him alone. While vacations may improve our state of mind by giving us relief from our day-to-day pressures and responsibilities, only Jesus can reconcile exhausted sinners like us to a holy and all-sufficient God. Only Jesus can save us from our spirit-sapping attempts to gain approval in the eyes of other people instead of God. Only Jesus can rescue us from the fatigue resulting from our fear of failure. As Augustine famously prayed “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in You.” So how can we receive this lasting rest and renewal?
- Come to Jesus alone. Although Jesus’ bodily presence is currently in heaven, he is with us now through the Holy Spirit. That means we can share life with Jesus anywhere and anytime. His love, forgiveness, peace, comfort, and guidance are available here and now. Just ask.
- Come to a deserted place. God performs some of his most spectacular signs in places that are off the world’s radar. Consequently, Jesus tells us to set aside a time and a place to be alone with him in prayer. The specific form this takes will vary for each of us, but we all have to find our “prayer closet.” As the radio announcer Woody Durham used to say when basketball games reached crunch time, “Go where you go and do what you do.”
- Come for a while. We can’t live in our prayer closets. Eventually we have to re-emerge to face the demands of life. When we do, prepare for the onslaught to be overwhelming. Jesus’ time alone with his disciples was interrupted by 5,000 people clamoring for food! Yet Jesus used the occasion to teach his disciples—and us—an unforgettable lesson in what it means to trust him to provide what we need in every circumstance.
I pray the Lord gives you and your family plenty of time for rest and renewal this summer. But more importantly, I pray the Lord will lead each of us to find lasting rest and renewal in Christ.