Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Why is rest so important?

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ’Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ’Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ’you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’’ Luke 10:38-40

Jesus did not demand, nor desire, that his followers labor to the point of exhaustion and burn-out. He knew that they needed periods of rest in order to remain strong, just as we do.
Why is rest so important?  For several reasons.  One of the most important functions of rest is to allow us to listen to God.  Often, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life that we become deaf to the still, small voice of God.  We become so busy doing things for Christ that we forget to simply be with Christ.  We get tunnel vision, becoming so fixated on completing our list of assigned tasks that we have no time for anything else but work.  
But somehow, the list of tasks never gets any shorter. For every one we finish, two more rise up to take their place.  We’re on a treadmill, running toward a finish line that never gets any closer.  And in the meantime, lacking that quiet, unhurried fellowship with the Lord, our perspectives can become warped; our attitudes poisoned.  We begin to run on autopilot.  Instead of being guided by the Holy Spirit, we find ourselves being controlled by emotion; by habit and circumstance.  And as Martha found out, that’s no way for a Christian to live.
Time away from our labors helps us to regain our perspective and realign our priorities.  It helps us to remember what’s most important.  It reminds us that the things of God are eternal, while the things of this life are temporary.  Many have given their lives to corporations or seeking position or financial security only to see it all go away overnight.  Yes, there are "many things" we can be doing, many things that are worthwhile and even important.  But there is really only one thing that is essential, and that is spending time with Christ.
Notice Jesus’ answer to Martha was that Mary had made a decision based on priorities.  She may have understood clearly the need for physical preparation but also recognized that there the time with Jesus was precious.  She made a conscious decision to be where she was.  While the conversation is never continued, I feel certain that Mary would have encouraged Martha to sit down and listen to the wonderful things Jesus was saying. 
All kinds of time management programs encourage establishing priorities in life so we don’t fail to do the most important things.  Priorities must be set in all areas of our lives.  Business is important and there are certain things that must get done.  But there are also priorities in family life and our personal lives.  Setting priorities in life includes finding time with the Savior. 
It is absolutely amazing what we can make time for in our lives.  What could be more refreshing and constructive to our lives than a time of rest with Christ?  As He did with the disciples, listen to His call to come aside and rest.

Scripture to Claim:
One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 4:6

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