An Invitation from Jesus
by Karen Blanchard
MACOMB TOWNSHIP, MI – As I sit down to write this article, I have just gotten back from a retreat with my mentor and another pastor’s wife. Several years ago my mentor first asked me to go away with her on a retreat, and I gave her all the excuses of why I couldn’t go:
“I was too busy.”
“I had to take care of my kids.”
“The timing just wasn’t right.”
God began working on my heart and I finally said “yes” to the invitation. This past weekend was the second personal retreat I have been on. This time when my mentor asked me to go, I didn’t hesitate. I said “yes” right away.
Jesus tells his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
– Mark 6:31b NIV
This is Jesus’ personal invitation to get away from our day-to-day activities and demands of life to simply rest. The two aspects of rest I want to cover are physical rest and spiritual rest.
Physical rest is vital for our body and our minds. This year has been a very difficult year for me, and God has shown me recently how I never take time for physical rest. This is a problem that I am working to change, even though in ministry, the “work” is never done. Author Shelly Miller shares in her book Rhythms of Rest,
“The work you have to do while on this earth is never fully finished. There will always be unfinished work. Don’t let it be a reason not to rest, or you never will.”
If we keep putting off physical rest because of our “to do” list, there will come a time where we will be forced to rest. I have experienced this a few times in my life. If we constantly push ourselves to the limits, our bodies will pay the price. A bible study I was recently taking part in covered this topic and challenged me to think of rest in this way: What if we switch our mindset on how we rest? Instead of working to our limits and then resting, we can rest first and then work from our rest.
Author Jennifer Dukes Lee states, “We were designed to rest first, so that our work can flow out of our rest.”
We see this example in the Bible with Adam and Eve. God created Adam and Eve on day six of Creation and then they rested on day seven. The first humans rested before they ever had a day of work!
While it is important to have physical rest for our bodies and minds, it is also important to have spiritual rest for our souls. A few years ago God gave me this acrostic when it comes to spiritual rest. This is an easy way for me to remember how to REST in Christ:
R - Resist the desire to be in control
E - Escape to a quiet place to be alone with God
S - Sit, be still, and listen to God
T - Talk to God
By taking time to rest in Christ, we unplug from the busyness of this world just to connect with Him. This is more than our quiet time each day. This is a time to intentionally shut out distractions, sit in His presence, share the deep desires, and hurts on our hearts, and receive from Him what He wants to speak to us about. We have to be intentional to create a quiet space for this to happen. It is in the stillness we hear God’s voice!
On my retreat this weekend, I was able to get away from all the tasks of ministry, voices of others, and responsibilities. I unplugged from social media and emails. I was able to get physical rest that I needed as well as spiritual rest.
God is always pursuing us and speaking to us. Sometimes we can’t hear Him or recognize His work in our lives because we are too caught up with the demands of life. I encourage you to take inventory of your life and begin to recognize where life has been controlling you. Don’t get so caught up in the “here and now” that you miss what God is wanting to do in and through you. The next time you feel God pulling you away to a quiet place, go! He has something He wants to tell you. The more we choose to accept His invitation, the more intimate our relationship with Him will be.
The invitation is always open, will you accept it?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen is married to Scott Blanchard, pastor of Lakepointe Church, and moved from Florida to Michigan in the summer of 2009 to plant Lakepointe Church in Shelby Township. She enjoys mentoring and discipling women and also leads women’s life groups through her church. She is passionate about helping women find their purpose in who God created them to be. She is on staff at Lakepointe Church and loves being part of what God is doing in the Metro Detroit area!