…Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,… Matthew 14: 22 – 23; ESV
Let’s face it; life has MANY demands on us. Youth are involved in more extra-curricular activities which cause their parents to transport them to and fro than ever before. More people are working extra hours at work or working two jobs to make ends meet. Some people are taking their work home with them which robs them of family time. And in efforts to make up that lost family time, people put other things aside; including their personal rest time, spiritual time (church attendance, personal devotions, prayer time, etc…), and alone time. Burning the candle at both ends are the current norms and some are even trying to light it in the middle. Their only day to rest and “catch up” with the rest of the things listed is Sunday; the day set aside for the day of rest.
In the passage before the listed text provided, Jesus had just finished ministering to thousands of people literally. He sends His disciples ahead of Him and takes some alone time. One can only imagine what Jesus did. Knowing Him, as Scriptures share, He was probably talking with His Father in prayer or just resting. Jesus knew the importance of rest and quiet time; to gather thoughts, to reconnect with His family (God), to just have “me” time. We could do good to do the same for ourselves.
There were still people seeking to speak to Jesus, to have Him heal them, and to perform miracles for them. Jesus, if He stayed and met all of their needs and desires, He would have never left that region. But Jesus knew the importance of connection with God the Father and to have time to Himself.
Believers today have the misconception that busyness equals spirituality in some aspects; the busier they are in the church, the more spiritual they feel. Although we are called to minister in various ministries of the church, it is equally, if not more important to have till to be still and to spend quality time with God. This can take place in a variety of ways: personal devotions, prayers, meditations, singing or listening to hymns or worship music, bible study with depth, quiet time, or even writings. Each of these allows the believer to focus on God, what He is trying to communicate to us, and seeking a deeper relationship with Him.
Along with this, people need to slow down and live life. Because we try to do everything and meet the needs of others, we forfeit our time to experience life. As a pastor and having a secular vocation, you might be able to imagine the demands placed on me. Fulfilling the demands of the church in itself is a fulltime calling; counseling, visitations, sermon preparation, and other church related activities all call me away from family and alone time. My secular vocation demands that my sleep patterns are never the same (working third shift on a rotating schedule). House work also has its demands. And even writing articles also requires time. Add on continuing educations for both callings, meetings and special trainings throughout the year, what time is left?
In order for me to meet the demands, I MUST TAKE TIME FOR MYSELF! I must refresh myself with personal devotions, time with my family and friends, times to do John stuff (hobbies and recreational activities), and to get proper sleep. My wife sometimes gets tired of me saying that I’m sorry for having to sleep while she is awake. She understands and also tells me to sleep. But knowing my limits and understanding I need John time allows me to be fresh to help meet the needs of others. I had to learn to say “no” to things or to say, “not now”. This is a freeing action! It allows me to spend time experiencing life of my family, to enjoy life’s small things, and to live life instead of allowing it to pass me by.
How busy is your life? Do you feel like all you do is run around putting out fires? Grab a stick and a bag of marshmallows, pull up a chair and take time to enjoy the fire! Roast some marshmallows and invite others to join you. Make the time for yourself and enjoy what God wants to give you in life. Embrace those which God has placed in your life and cherish each moment. Reconnect with God and renew your relationship with Him! Your life will have more living and joy in it if you do.
Help us to be still and know You are God. Grant us all the ability to stop our busyness and to rest in You. Increase our devotions and prayer life, allow us to slow down and enjoy those whom You have blessed us with, and let us learn to dismiss the crowds and to be alone with You more often. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.