Pressing Pause

The alarm clock wakes me up way before I’m ready. Tired is just a state of being. I don’t even remember a time when I wasn’t tired. I roll out of bed, and my phone is already full of notifications- Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are calling to me. I have 47 emails even though I cleared my inboxes…all four of them…before I went to bed. The kids are screaming in the kitchen. Breakfast.

And so the day begins. I swear I am going to slow down. The littles are dressed and off to school before I have time to even process that I am awake. I’ve cleared half the emails, cleaned up the kitchen and showered before my husband comes home from his night shift job- we high five in passing as I’m heading out to the office.

Then it’s go-go-go all day. I swear I’m going to slow down. Sometimes I remember to eat lunch, but most of the time client appointments, phone calls, emails and tasks are pulling me in a million different directions and I just forget. I’m consumed. Occasionally I come home at 5:30, but often we have evening events. Someone has practice, a ball game, church events or Bible Studies…all good, healthy productive things.

I say that I’m going to slow down, press pause and take the day. I even built work-from-home days into my 2020 schedule and took Carey Nieuwhof’s High Impact Leader course...I had just begun to implement the set calendar that he recommends before COVID-19 turned our worlds and our schedules upside down.

But even work-from-home doesn’t stop the constant onslaught. We’re still a chronically busy society. Even when I work from home, the phone rings, email pings, and my task list is far longer than the time I’ve given myself to complete it. I swear I’m going to slow down...but am I? Am I, really?

It’s all kind of a lot sometimes.

The last few weeks have turned our lives upside down and inside out. Normal is no longer normal. Here in IL, we are under “Shelter in place” orders until April 8th. We aren’t to be out interacting with people unless it’s considered “essential.”

Suddenly, so much of the busyness should have been ground to a halt.

And yet… we found a way to be busy.

Virtually overnight we found a way to do everything…well…virtually. School went to school-from-home. Work went to work-from-home. Church went to church-from-home.

Now, rather than being go-go-go out in the world, we are go-go-going in our homes.

Not only are we still doing our jobs, but we’re doing them with our kids at home while we educate them and handle more meals and more messes at home than ever. We are also doing ALL of the activities that have been sent to us from our church leaders while we stream Sunday morning services and jump on Zoom calls multiple times a day.

And did I mention how many times we’re supposed to sanitize everything and wash our hands?

It’s…well…exhausting.

I’ve been convicted, over the past few days, about my propensity to GO. Yes- of course I spend time in God’s word and I am intentional about prayer, but how much time do I spend not DOING?

What about you, friend?

God’s word is full of direction regarding rest. There are numerous references to the Sabbath and plenty of Psalms that reference the peace and rest that God desires for us. He also freely gives it to us, and it’s clear that God does not want us to work ourselves to the bone.

Jesus Desires Rest for His Workers

There is a beautiful little gem that I wanted to share with all of you, tucked into Mark 6:30-31. It’s positioned between the death of John the Baptist and Jesus feeding the 5000. Jesus wanted his friends to rest, and this is what set the stage for the feeding of the 5000!

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught…” (Mark 6:30 NIV) Can you picture it? All of the apostles, huddled around Jesus, sharing their stories of ministry. They were in the trenches, sharing the truth and doing all that Jesus had asked.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat…” (Mark 6:31a NIV)

Friends, this one hit me right in the gut. They were busy doing ministry, and there were so many people coming and going that they didn’t even have a chance to eat. I relate to this on so many levels. Anyone who knows me well can tell you- my forgetting to eat because I get so caught up in what I am doing is a running joke. Our receptionist at the center will bring me my food because I will put it in the microwave, then get caught up in the work of ministry and forget about it. Thank the Lord for that woman!

Busyness kept them from having a chance to eat. They weren’t doing anything bad- they were busy in ministry! But, Jesus insisted that they press pause. He wanted them to rest. “he said to them, Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31b, NIV)

This act- the attempt to get his apostles to a quiet place where they could rest and eat in peace- is what led to the miracle of the feeding of the 5000.

“So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place’ they said. ‘and it is already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take more than a year’s wages! Are we to spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’

‘How many loaves do you have?’ he asked. ‘Go and see.’ When they found out, they said, ‘five-and two fishes.’

Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and two fishes and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of men who had eaten was five thousand.” (Mark 6:32-44, NIV)

Jesus longed to give his apostles rest. He wanted them to have a quiet, solitary place to enjoy a meal. He valued them, and he valued their rest. The willingness to pursue that rest led to one of the most well known miracles in all of scripture.

Pressing pause honors God. Quiet, peacefulness and rest gives God space to work, where there would have otherwise been noise, plans and activity.

I can’t help but wonder if, in the midst of the COVID-19 chaos, we’re not hearing Jesus whisper to us, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Maybe, just maybe, He is calling out to us. Maybe He has a “Feeding the 5000” moment ahead, but we’re so busy Go-Go-Going that we’re missing it.

We have to be willing to go to a quiet place and get some rest. God works in the quiet. God works in the still. God works in the willing hearts of his people. Are we willing? Are we willing to be still and quiet? The minute we had the opportunity to, we quickly found a way to fill it.

Pressing pause is an act of obedience to the King. Pressing pause tells the Lord, “I trust You enough to not be in control of this moment in time.” Pressing pause is choosing faith, choosing hope and choosing Jesus over the demands of the world.

The world will not stop demanding of you. You will give and give and the world will take and take. Mark 6:30-31 tells me that when I give and give to Jesus, He looks out for me. He longs to take me to a quiet place where I can rest.”

That is what love looks like.

Lord, thank you for rest. Thank you for wanting me to rest, even when my life and the world seem to demand more and more of me. Thank you for seeing the work that I do in your name and offering me a quiet place at your feet to sit. Help me to embrace rest, to sit in the quiet and to not be pulled in by the constant pressure to do more. I need you, Lord. More than yesterday. I ask that you be with us as we face the uncertainty that is pandemic has brought. Give us peace that surpasses understanding, and help us make wise decisions. Most of all, help us to always be a reflection of you. Amen.

Discussion Questions:

What pressures have you experienced to do more, and forego rest? How are you navigating that, and choosing to press pause?

How are you finding peace and rest in the midst of all that has happened lately?

Drop any responses in the comments!

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