But even in the midst of vacation, life will intervene as it always does. There will be good days and not-so-good days. There will be good news and not-so-good news. There will be the relentless push of the calendar getting ever closer to the day I’m “back to work.”
Something I’m planning on during my break, in fact, the most important thing of all is time with my Savior. I’ve got some reading lined up – books, articles, and a plan for extensive, unhurried Bible reading. I’m going to make time for intentional, unhurried prayer and conversation with the Lord. I don’t announce this and pursue it because I’m so amazing at this. Hardly. It’s because I need it. I need to reset. I need to “rest myself before I wreck myself,” as the saying so crudely puts it.
We need physical rest. Our bodies need rest. None of us has an “S” on our chest. You’re not Superman/ Superwoman. We need rest, sleep, relaxation, recreation, down time. Jesus did it and he is Superman! Actually, he’s something even more amazing – he’s the God-Man. But even more important than physical rest is spiritual rest, time with Jesus. He says to you and me, "Come with me by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while." (Mark 6:31)
We need the rest of repentance. We all have those things that bother us, those huge issues that burden our souls, the sins that cause us regret. You know what it is that burdens your heart and soul. You know what it is that keeps your spiritual back bent under the strain of that heavy load. You know what makes for a restless conscience.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus reaches out and grabs us, takes us by the hand, and says, “My child, you keep going and going and going, and doing and doing and doing…Stop! Stop trying to outdo, outrun, outpace, out-earn, outperform, outmuscle, outmaneuver everyone else. You’re not human DOINGS. You’re human BEINGS. Just be for a while, stop, take a moment, look at what I have done for you:
· I lived your life for you, gave my perfect life in exchange for your flawed, imperfect, hell-bound life
· I died your death for you, shed my blood as payment for your sins
· And because I live, because I came back from the dead, you also will live forever with me
Oh, how we need this rest! Oh, how our souls strain to hear the good news of forgiveness! Oh, how our hearts ache for assurance: “Lord, you did this for me? Really?”
And the voice comes back – through the Word/ worship/Bible study/the remembrance of Baptism/the reception of the Lord’s Supper, through quiet times spent with Jesus – the voice comes back: “Yes, I did it just for you.”
“Come with me,” Jesus says, “by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest. Let me encourage you, let me remind you, let me refresh you.” If Jesus were speaking to me around the campfire, he might simply say, “Rest yourself before you wreck yourself.”
Jesus, I hear you. Thank you. And please, help me.
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand