When I first became a church planter, I was required to commit to a “Rule” of life – a series of commitments to the Lord. I was able to chose many of what those commitments would be – like having daily time with God, having a day off, and putting my family first. A monthly half-day retreat was also added, where I would take time away with Jesus. The Rule was formulated and I committed to it. But I didn’t keep it.
Church planting got crazy. Things got busy at home. There were financial concerns. Suddenly I couldn’t (I told myself) make the time to get away for a half-day retreat. Then my daily time with God turned into 4 times per week. After I had compromised my commitments to God it was easy to do so with my family – and so I began working later and later.
Thankfully I didn’t hit rock bottom before I realized I need to turn around. I could feel the burnout coming, and made some big changes. But in this season I also started to think a lot more about REST. Why had I neglected it? Why did I think it was optional? And what does God think about my rest?
In Luke 4:1-13, Jesus is being tempted by Satan. Christ has just been fasting in the wilderness, focused on God and the mission for His life. Satan tempts the Lord in 3 ways: turn stones to bread, worship Satan to receive the kingdoms of earth, and to throw Himself off the Temple. These are ways that Satan tries to tempt Jesus to shortcut God’s plan for His ministry:
- Stones to bread: If Jesus feeds people again and again, He will be popular and they will make Him king (and they actually will try to).
- Worship Satan: If Jesus chooses power by worshiping Satan then He will be able to make people follow Him.
- Throw Yourself off the Temple: If Jesus does endless miracles then He can avoid the suffering that is to be part of His life.
Jesus rejects all of these temptations and accepts the way of the Lord. He will not heal everyone, feed everyone, convince everyone, or be accepted by everyone. He is the Son of God but He will be rejected. He will invest in a group of devoted disciples who will change the world. And Jesus Christ rested. Think about that. His job was to save the world! He rested and prayed and even took time to celebrate.
So often I listen to the lie that I don’t have time to rest and celebrate. It is a lie. God only asks for my best – He takes care of the rest. His plan for me – and you – includes rest and play. The way of the Lord means putting first things first. Following Jesus will not always mean popularity, power, or avoiding pain – but it is the life of joy and significance for which we were created.
So rest. It is a commandment – one of the Ten Commandments even! Jesus and Paul modified the commandment saying that you can still do good on the day of rest and that one day is not more holy than another. But the principle still applies: we need rest. If God commands it then we can do it.
What fuels you up? For me it is time with God, making memories and talking with my family, travel, learning, hiking, laughing with friends, movies. Don’t forget to sleep, too! Find out what recharges you, with God being first, and find a way to follow God into rest.