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.” Mark 6:31
After a busy Thanksgiving, taking relatives to the airport, and doing some holiday shopping, my husband, older daughter and I took a day off from all the busyness and played golf. I suppose you could call what I played “golf” even though it didn’t go so well! But it was nice to get out with them and enjoy a relaxing, beautiful day.
For a long time, I struggled with resting. With just doing something fun that had no goal. Before kids, my husband and I would spend Saturday running around doing errands. Come Sunday I would start stressing out about Monday’s workload! When my kids were younger, we always had sports on the weekends with tournaments lasting from Thursday until Sunday afternoon. These last couple of years I’ve finally taken to heart the idea of resting. Resting and enjoying all the blessings that God has gifted us.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2
Toiling and striving and anxiously lying awake thinking about how we can toil some more the next day! It’s not good for our health and it’s not the life God intended for us. It’s so sad that two major companies in the United States who made the choice to stay closed on Sundays have received so much grief for that decision. But the leaders of those companies are Christians who take the message and gift of the Sabbath to heart.
I still catch myself feeling guilty for resting. I have to remind myself that it’s not a luxury. It’s a requirement by God. Whether we are rich or poor, with children or not, retired or still working, God wants us to be rested, ready to do His good works when needed.
I’m so thankful for this gift of rest. It shows how much God loves us and wants the best for us. He wants us to be recharged and energized followers of Jesus. Not burned out, overworked, stressed and therefore unable to see how beautiful this world is He created. Unable to stop and help someone in need. So today on this Sabbath day take this gift of rest freely. Take time for yourself and enjoy.
“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said. “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”
There was one point in my life – actually a few weeks ago (I hate to admit) – where I would sit on my couch in utter angst and anxiety. No, not about important things, but about wall décor. Yup, you heard it. I would sit on my couch with anxiety about the lack of cute, trendy wall décor and decorations in my apartment. I was so anxious about what people would think of us when they came over, I was so anxious about having cute Fall décor before “Pumpkin Spice Season” hit. What was I going to do? Hobby Lobby FOR SURE by now has already off-loaded all of their Fall décor for Christmas stuff – the best stuff has already been bought and picked through. What was I going to do? As my heart rate started to rise, I heard the Lord say to me “Do you think I care about any of this?” My anxious thoughts stopped. I listened and heard again – “Do you think the things on your walls are treasures you will store in Heaven?” Woah – I heard the message loud and clear.
I was toiling over useless, temporary, meaningless possessions INSTEAD of spending that time storing up REAL treasures in Heaven. I was convicted.
Now, I’m not saying decorating your house or shopping at Hobby Lobby is a sin. What I am saying is to consider the weight we put on those things. I’m asking us to consider if we’ve made material things idols in our lives.
Jesus’ words in Mark 10:29-31 cut me deep to the core – I hope they do for you too. These verses stir me to ask myself, “How much of my life is spent toiling over temporary gains?” Reading Jesus’ words over again alleviate many of my silly – yet very real – anxieties about possessions and material things. We must remember that the Lord God does not look upon us and see the things we’ve collected, the money we’ve made or the beautiful house we’ve decorated for Fall. No – He sees His son standing as an eternal sacrifice for our sins. He sees us as his prodigal children whom He loves.
This truth truly amazes me. As the world tells us that we need this, we need that – this will give you favor in the eyes of man and this will surely bring you pleasure and happiness – God says lay it all down. Give it all up. And for those of you that ask, “Does He really mean ALL of it?” I would say – to some extent – yes. Our first fruits (earnings) should always go to the Lord, and as Jesus said in Luke 16:
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
If I am covetousness of what little I have – how much more will sin grow within my heart the more I gain? The Lord was speaking a very important truth to me that day. For material things are not of ANY value to Him. He wants my heart. He wants my attention. He wants my full dedication – things that cost nothing – but everything at the same time.
The disciples couldn’t believe what Jesus was saying. For their entire lives they saw the Chief Priests and Kings lavished with riches and luxuries. To them, those were the people who were closest to God. They were experiencing a real-time paradigm shift. You mean to say that now the lame, the weak, the poor are the blessed? Not the rich and noble? Pretty amazing stuff!
What Jesus was getting at here is that the more possessions one has, the more divided his heart becomes. The more his money has gone to things other than Kingdom purposes. He warned his disciples loud and clear that being rich was not the way into the Kingdom of God. No, it was intimacy with the Father, sacrifice and a dedication to seeing salvation sweep across the nations.
So – why are we so enthralled by things of this Earth? I urge you to spend time in prayer today asking God to reveal what you’ve been idolizing recently. I pray that the next time you find yourself coveting someone else’s possessions, you direct your thoughts, your anxieties and worries to the amazing God-given things above – blessings that will reward you many treasures in Heaven.