The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. –Mark 6:30-32
As we near the end of the semester, I find myself needing exactly what Jesus invites the disciples into in the above passage. Yet, as I read further, I can’t help but laugh at what happens next! It’s as if Jesus is writing to the very dilemma we have as teachers, parents & caregivers, spouses, siblings, and friends.
The disciples had been sent out and came back reporting all they had done. Then, Jesus invites them to rest. How many times, as a teacher, have I reported back to God, “God, here’s my fall semester. This is all I’ve done and taught!”
He then says, “Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Immediately after saying this, a large crowd follows Jesus. Out of compassion, He stays with them.
In the moment, I wonder if the disciples felt frustration at the immediate change in plans. I wonder if they are like me at the end of a semester, tired and in need of serious down time. I’ve found myself there, on the precipice of a break, then something else comes up that doesn’t really feel like a break.
The beauty in this story, though, is Jesus’s compassion. He was on His way to rest, when God brought real people with real, eternal souls, into His presence.
On the outset, it can seem like Jesus is teaching us, “Plan for rest, but if something else comes up, do that because that’s a better use of your time. Rest is secondary.”
Yet, I don’t think that’s what Jesus is modeling for us in this passage, especially since following His time with the people, He actually goes out and gets some rest.
Immediately, Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida, while He dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, He went up on a mountainside to pray.
Having eternal perspective, Jesus knows that His time of rest will come and that it might look a little different than expected.
When I think of rest, I view it through an incredibly Westernized lens: TV, movies, eating, and sleeping.
While these things can be a fractional part of rest, what if Jesus was actually talking about being with Him as true rest? That being still, praying, singing, listening to Him and reading His Word are foundational to true rest for our souls.
As you wrap up December and bring to God all the things that happened in your classroom, I encourage and challenge you to reframe what Christmas break could look like.
Come away and rest: Times of solitude with the Lord fill and recharge our souls. Jesus modeled an unhurried lifestyle that prioritized being with God and having compassion on others. The rest He modeled also looks counter to what we’ve been sold as a bill of rest. It involves being outside WITH God!
As you start to dream about Christmas break, consider the following items as parts of the resting and resetting process. As with any list, these are merely suggestions, so feel free to move within each item or create your own!
- Dedicate 7-10 days where you turn-off any school notifications on your phone and ignore your school laptop. Challenge yourself to really disconnect from work for that set period of time. If it helps, set-up an “Out of Office” email response indicating your days of rest.
- Build in outside/nature time to your daily routine. This could be walks, sitting out on a porch, or going for a hike. Really any time outside is healing for our souls.
- Pick 1 day or a 1/2 a day to spend in solitude with the Lord. This could be spent reading the Bible, journaling, praying, or just being still and noticing all that He’s created. If you’re unable to find time alone, consider inviting your spouse, a friend, or another family member to help with watching kids or loved ones for at least part of the day. You could even swap care responsibilities so that person can also have solitude time.
- Invite others to join you in this mini-sabbatical. It could be fellow teachers, family members, or friends. Community is essential during this time as these are the people who can hold us up in prayer and remind us what true rest means.
Compassion when interrupted: It’s inevitable that in this season, our best laid plans will be interrupted. What would it look like to extend compassion when real people with real, eternal souls step between us and our set time of rest?
For Jesus, it took a few hours of teaching and feeding them because He knew that His rest would eventually come. I challenge you to ask God for times of rest, then to actually trust that He’ll provide it, even when interruptions come, and it looks different than we expect.
As you finish out this semester with the anticipation of a break and Christmas, my prayer for you is that you’ll be encouraged and reminded of the following truths about Jesus and who we are in Him:
Come, thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel’s Strength and Consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart