Have you ever felt like you need a break? Many advertising campaigns have been based on this common desire. Perhaps the most famous is McDonald’s “You deserve a break today.” The catchiest had to be Kit Kat’s “Gimme a Break” song. You’re probably already singing along, “Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece…” You know the rest, and once that little jingle gets stuck in your head it doesn’t want to leave. These campaigns work not only because they are memorable, but because almost everyone can relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed and overworked and needing a break. We recently reached this point as a family and took a couple of days just “to get away.” Since our return, I’ve spent some time thinking about this natural desire to take a break. Here are some thoughts.
• Jesus often withdrew to be alone (Luke 5:16). Jesus, God incarnate, shared this desire we have to take a break. He would withdraw after significant spiritual victories (Mat 14:22-23) and intense ministry (Mk 6:30-32). He withdrew to contemplate decisions (Luke 6:12-13), when he was facing difficulties ( Luke 22:41) and even when he was simply tired of constant interaction with others (Mk 7:24). In his humanness, Jesus understood the need for and value of getting away and he modeled this practice for us.
• Jesus encouraged His followers to take a break. In Mark 6 we find the apostles gathering around Jesus after a time of ministry. They had been traveling around preaching and performing miracles and were exhausted. Once they returned, they were still so busy they couldn’t even eat. At this point Jesus says, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest for a while (Mark 6:31).” Some of us think it is noble to work ourselves into a frenzy or wear ourselves out for God, but God says to take a break. Neither Jesus nor I are endorsing laziness or neglect, but there are times when what you need most is a time away to rest, regroup and refocus.
• Jesus offered himself as the rest we need (Matthew 11:28). Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. God created this concept of rest at creation and Jesus modeled it for us in His life and encouraged it in His followers because this desire is meant to draw us to Him. He is our rest! For a time of rest to be spiritually beneficial, it must direct us toward Him. We get away to pray, to read His Word, to commune with Him. In these ways, we allow the God-given desire for rest to lead us into true rest.
Whatever it is you are doing and whatever you are facing, you will undoubtedly reach a point of needing a break. I encourage you to take that break and draw closer to your Savior who is our only true Rest.