A Restless Search for Rest

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by Pastor Victor Chen

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” -Mark 6:31

As I stared at these words on the first day of my three-month sabbatical, I felt like a child being told to go to sleep only to find himself staring at the ceiling wide awake.

Rest.

Sure, that was the purpose of this sabbatical and the ultimate goal. But it was easier stated than achieved. How does one find rest?

At my stage of life with three young children running amok, you would think extra sleep would equate to rest. But sleep is oftentimes restless no matter how many hours you get.

I thought of all these books I could read, churches to visit or conferences to attend during those three months. But I quickly realized how counter-productive piling up a to-do list would be in my quest for rest.

Finally I concluded that maybe I was to do “nothing” and sit with Jesus for extended periods of time and simply enjoy being with Him.

Bible. Pen. Journal.

Silence. Solitude.

I was quickly convicted that this wasn’t doing “nothing.” This was everything a restful sabbatical should be. In many ways, this was how life with God was supposed to be.

And it wasn’t just me hunching over a desk for hours a day in prayer. It was me getting up, walking, pausing, reflecting, praying and worshipping. It was me racing out of bed to climb a hill and watch the sun rise, or rushing to climb that same hill to watch the sun set. It was me staring at the stars and singing to the God of the universe. It was me pausing to notice the beauty of a tree’s blossom or the wonder of a hummingbird’s flight and realize the Creator’s hand in it all.

And at the end of my three-month sabbatical, I had concluded this: rest at its core is trust. It’s trusting God in all things.

It’s trusting that I could cut myself off from the ministries I oversee for three months and everything would be ok, because God is in control.

It’s trusting that however frantic and chaotic life was at home, God was at work.

It’s trusting that extended times spent with the Lord whether sitting, walking, talking or playing is more productive than sneaking in extra hours for work.

It’s trusting that the work of redemption is finished in Christ Jesus and no ministry of mine could ever add to it.

And the best thing about this? You don’t have to be on sabbatical to trust God in everything. That means whether you’re working or on your day off, whether at home or at the office, rest is at hand.

We just have to trust God it’s true.

”Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in hearts and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30