Jesus and Rest: The Master’s Way of Refocusing

Jesus and Rest

Rest has a way of refocusing us. I touched briefly on this in the last episode of the podcast (God and Rest).

When we live at a busy pace, rest is the chance for us to rejuvenate and avoid burnout. But it goes beyond that.

Rather than simply recharging us so we can tackle our work week, rest can change how we fundamentally view our lives. Rest gives us the ability to refocus.

And we see a great example of this coming from Jesus himself.

To a Desolate Place

Mark 6:30-32
30  The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32  And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.

A little earlier in the chapter, Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to drive out demons, heal, and preach. I can only imagine the flurry of activity that would have entailed.

We see here the disciples come back to Jesus, eager to talk about what they had done. It’s hard to fault them for that – I can imagine that’s a natural thing to do after coming back from an assignment.

But I wonder here if the disciples are beginning to get focused on the wrong thing.

What They Had Done and Taught

Up until now, they’ve been following Christ from place to place. They’ve been assisting him, observing him, and learning from him.

Now, they’re off on their own with a mission.

When we’re on mission, there’s a danger that we take our eyes off Jesus and begin focusing on what we’re doing.

So I think Jesus’s instructions to rest aren’t just because of the physical exhaustion the disciples faced.

I think Jesus understood that rest here would be a time for them to refocus. They could shift their attention from activity to relationship. They could keep their eyes on Christ instead of drifting over to their own hustle and bustle.

Evidence of the Need for Refocusing

Interestingly, the disciples never rest at the desolate place. They’re intercepted by a large crowd – a large, hungry crowd that Jesus wants to feed.

When there appeared to be no food to give the crowd, you’d think that a band of disciples who just cast out demons would be the first to suggest some supernatural intervention.

But they didn’t. Instead, they told Jesus there wasn’t enough food around. They looked to their own power and their own reason. I think that’s pretty strong evidence for where their heart was at the time.

Jesus knew they needed refocusing and a renewed spiritual view on life. Jesus knew rest was the key.

And Us?

Do we allow rest to shift our attention?
Do we use this time to get refocused?
Do we truly slow down enough when we rest?

Are you too focused on activity?

Photo Credit: Milo Bostock (Creative Commons)

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  • Kari Scare

    My answer to all of these questions is: Sometimes. Do I allow rest to shift my attention? Sometimes. Do I use this time to get refocused? Sometimes. Do I truly slow down enough when I rest? Sometimes. Am I too focused on activity? Sometimes. I have improved in all of these areas over the years, but it was only through deliberate and intentional effort on my part. As my thinking about rest shifts, I am getting to the point where I can answer, “Most of the time.” I wrote a devotion that uses this same scripture that you might like to read. It’s under the Victory tab on my blog, then under “Everyday Devotions.” The title is “Energy Vampires.” I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

    • Loren Pinilis

      Cool, I’ll have to check that out!
      It’s funny, because this is something that we have to continually fight. We may be doing great this year, and next year – or even next week – it’s a totally different story.

      • Kari Scare

        Consistency and persistency are keys in this continual fight. We just can’t let it slide and think we’ll be okay.

        • Loren Pinilis

          It’s interesting you say that, because in 2 Peter 1 it talks about having steadfastness as a quality to go along with self control, love, and virtue. It struck me as I was reading it.

          • Kari Scare

            There is so much to process in that portion of scripture. I read through my notes on it again this morning and realized even more how I need to focus on those areas. Powerful stuff.

  • TC Avey

    I’ve been reading a great book, “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In it he breaks down the Sermon on the Mount and points out things I had never thought about before. Such as warning the disciples not to pray in the streets or wear sackcloth. While I used to always focus on them having their reward from men/public, Bonhoeffer warns us that we can have a subtle reward that is not from God- pride in our actions/accomplishments.

    We must guard against letting good things become idols and taking our focus off God.
    Your post is powerful- thank you. I especially like this line- “When we’re on mission, there’s a danger that we take our eyes off Jesus and begin focusing on what we’re doing.” It reminds me of my readings from Bonhoeffer.

    • Loren Pinilis

      So true. When we are incredibly active – even if we’re active “for God” – then the inclination to pride is strong. That was the root of the Pharisee’s problems in the first place.

      • Kari Scare

        Pride is a huge issue, and I especially notice it when I get too busy and am struggling with overload. Need to constantly assess where pride is active in my life.

  • Arny

    Man this is so good Loren…so good…i love it…might have to teach it to my bible study…

    I used to have like 100 things going on at once…i was leading worship at a bible study one week…teaching at another the week after…i have a drama team going at my church ever sunday night…i was writing songs like crazy….and We were about to start recording an album…all the way juggling my wife and 2 kids and work….it got to be too much…i was to focus on getting everything done…that it ceased to be worship and just work…

    i finaly had to cut somethings out and focus on just 1 or 2 things and i finaly had some to time to rest and just re-focus on what really mattered and had meaning again…

    • Loren Pinilis

      Wow, that certainly sounds like a lot, haha. That’s a great point about things ceasing to be worship and starting to be just work. When we lose focus, that’s the inevitable result.

  • kimanzi

    I would have to be honest and say I get caught up in “busy work” that seems important at the time but probably isn’t a good use of time. Very good points Loren, especially about rest shifting our focus, I’ve been guilty of that also. I always feel so pressured with my time, like I just can’t relax!

    • Loren Pinilis

      Resting takes intentional surrender. We have to trust God that obeying his instructions to rest will be blessed with supernatural productivity when we are working.

      • Kari Scare

        Key word: intentional. Gives the idea that we are choosing how we live our lives instead of letting life happen to us. This requires faith, for sure.

        • Loren Pinilis

          That’s a great point – because so often our rest just happens because we get burned out and feel that we “have to” take a break. It’s more of a begrudging response instead of something we enjoy for the glory of God. I had never thought about it like that before – that’s great!

      • kimanzi

        I will be praying and acting Loren.

  • Carey

    Excellent Post Loren! Just coming off a 4 month sabbatical I can attest to the truth of these words… you don’t know how much you really need rest until you either do it for an extended period of time (like I just did), or begin to make it a healthy habit for all of life (weekly “sabbath” of rest). My wife and I learned the importance about 7 years ago and have often said to each other, “How did we ever survive without these days off each week?” Great word… wanted to encourage you to keep putting it out there brother!

    • Loren Pinilis

      Thanks, Carey. I’m so glad you had a great sabbatical. I try to take a day off to rest, but sometimes it doesn’t work out the way I want it to. Kids start screaming, the phone starts ringing – you know how it goes. I need to be more intentional about really having a quality rest as well.

  • bill (cycleguy)

    Sometimes I get into a “groove” and don’t seem to come up for air. next thing I know I am gasping for air, for freedom, and wondering where in the world time went. I need to follow the example of Jesus more consistently: take time away from everyone to be with the Father. Thanks for the challenge Loren.

    • Loren Pinilis

      It’s funny how it sneaks up on us. I can imagine the disciples’ initial reaction may have been “What!?! We’re doing so much good! Why would we rest!?!”

  • Dan Black

    I try to have balance between work and resting. Taking time to rest is so essential for people/leaders to do. Jesus is a perfect example of someone who accomplished a lot but still took time to rest and pray.

    • Loren Pinilis

      That balance is essential, and it’s something we need to think more about intentionally building into our lives instead of just having it happen to us. I wish I could’ve tagged along with Jesus to see how he rested and prayed and worked – what an example!

  • Susan

    What a GREAT post! I really like the statement – “They could shift their attention from activity to relationship.” We do spend a lot of time ‘doing’ and not enough time listening and communicating. Also, the feeding of the 5,000 tells us that Jesus will give us a job to do, but then He will give us a way to do it. If we focus on Him and not on our own abilities, we rest in Him. Thank you for the wonderful insight Loren – you have blessed me today.

    • Loren Pinilis

      “If we focus on Him and not on our own abilities, we rest in Him.”
      I wish I would’ve thought of that line when I was writing the post – great way of putting it!

  • Amy @ themessymiddle

    I find that my beliefs and my behavior don’t line up as often as they should — I believe that rest is important, but I’m not sure that an analysis of my schedule and things I do when I’m supposed to be resting would truly reflect that belief. Good to be reminded, nudged and even shoved to live out what I believe.

    • Loren Pinilis

      It’s funny how our schedules often don’t line up with our values. That happens to everyone, and I think it’s a constant battle to really have the two correspond. I think that’s a benefit of planning – and this brings up an interesting point. Do we plan our rest? I bet a lot of people plan their workday and when they will start/stop work, but do we give the same care and attention to rest?

  • Stephen Haggerty

    Awesome thoughts, Loren.
    I’m very “activity-driven”, and forget to rest and refocus. On top of that, it’s hard for my busy mind to stop and listen to His voice, which obviously is not His plan for me.
    Thanks for insight.

    • Loren Pinilis

      I’m the same way. For some reason, I’ve found that I need to wake up early – otherwise, I feel rushed once the workday hits. I’ve also found it’s helpful for me on my days off to go to another location, even if that’s just stepping out on my deck (I love my deck this time of year!)

  • @marcmillan

    I love the truth in that verse and you explained it well. Entering into the Rest of God is so refreshing, I can longer see myself without it daily now that I have found what a blessing it is to my life.

    • Loren Pinilis

      That’s a great encouragement. I’m glad rest has been such a wonderful blessing in your life!

  • Melanie Wilson

    What really jumps out at me from that passage is Jesus’ concern with the disciple’s needs. Too often I fear that God is expecting too much of me, when really He is the one saying, “Rest.” I have a hard time having guilt-free rest because I have a crowd pressing in all the time. 🙂 It’s good to be reminded that God commands rest and doesn’t just suggest it.

    • Loren Pinilis

      Another interesting thing is that God could have created us to not need rest. He could’ve created us so that we didn’t need relaxation and we didn’t need sleep. But in his wisdom, he didn’t. I think that gives us a glimpse into what he intended for rest to accomplish.

      • Kari Scare

        I think it also gives us a glimpse of what Heaven will be like. We’ll always be fully rested!

        • Loren Pinilis

          Yeah – that’s a great point too! Nice to remember that on those days I’m exhausted 🙂

  • Caleb

    Thanks for this awesome post! I’m going to link it to a post I’m doing on my blog right now.

    • Loren Pinilis

      Thanks for dropping by and thanks for the link, Caleb!

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