Monday, July 13, 2009

Thinking about Leisure Time

"Rest" by Ola Jacobsen

Having just returned from some leisure time in Illinois followed up by three days in Port Aransas, my thoughts turn naturally to the subject of rest and relaxation. Through the years I have often heard certain people brag about never taking a day off and never going on a vacation. It seems that a minority of preachers and missionaries I have known fall into this R and R avoidance category. It seems to me that they didn't just avoid time off; their non-stop work endeavors were worn as a badge of honor. Spouting such cliches as, "I'd rather wear out than rust out," these folks use the "hard work" angle to prove their superiority over the lazy masses around them. Maybe it's just me, but I can't help but detect that these people don't seem to be doing themselves any favors by always staying "on the clock" so to speak. I remember one clergy couple in particular who's argumentative behavior with each other and most people around them, practically screamed out, "I need a good nap!"

Naturally, a topic like this lends itself to the proverbial question, "What would Jesus do?" Fortunately, we can do better than that by looking at Mark 6 to observe one of Jesus' busiest days of ministry. We can look at what Jesus did do and encouraged his disciples to do with him. Jesus had just sent his men out two by two into area villages to preach and brought them back together for a de-briefing session. The text then records (Mark 6:31), "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.'" Thinking about the King James verbiage of this text I remember a preacher's admonition to "come ye apart" or else you will come apart (literally). Jesus is also the one who said, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) While Jesus was certainly a hard working man himself, I can't imagine him boasting about "wearing out rather than rusting out." The most amazing thing about Jesus' leisure time was that he seemed to spend most of it in prayer in a place where he was able to be alone. It seems that for Jesus, communion with Abba Father was blissful relaxation of the best kind. He was not only favorable to relaxation, his rest was spent in union with the Father. If only we could learn to "clock out" the way Jesus did as he talked to God in a quiet and lonely place. Consider Jesus admonition, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Think about that for a while.

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