Resting in the Midst of Crazy

Several months ago, a friend asked me to speak to our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. My initial reaction was an enthusiastic, “YES!” Then, I asked her the topic. I became less enthusiastic when I realized she wanted me to speak on rest and how to experience rest in the midst of everyday life. With two active, energetic, and exploring girls, our house is far from restful. However, I knew that God wanted to teach me a lesson or two about what true, biblical rest looked like in a world that exalts busyness.

How can we as mothers, students, empty-nesters, and career women find rest in the midst of our busy, crazy lives?

I believe Mark 6:30-44 has some insight:

“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”

First, Jesus understands our need for rest. This passage is positioned right after the twelve disciples came back from a “mission trip” and right before Jesus fed the 5,000. Jesus gave the disciples instructions to go from town to town and house to house (walking, mind you), casting out demons, healing the sick, and calling for repentance of sin (Mk. 6:7-13). Upon their return, Jesus learns of John the Baptist’s death. So, here we have men who are physically exhausted (verse 31 says they didn’t even have time to eat), spiritually exhausted (if you’ve ever been on a mission trip you know how spiritually exhausted you are), and then emotionally exhausted (Jesus just found out one of His closest friends has been beheaded).

If there was ever a need for rest, now was that time. Therefore, Jesus invites them to come away with Him and rest. In this verse, Jesus is talking about an active rest, meaning purposefully coming away to rest and gain new strength and energy. These men were tired, and their Lord knew it. We need to hear the heart of our Savior towards us…IT IS OK TO REST! We need rest. Our children and husbands need us to rest. Rest is a good thing! If you are struggling with the rat race of life, know that God has given you permission and even asked you to come away and rest. Allow your spirit and body to be refreshed.

But, rest does not always look like we think it will look.

Second, there will always be someone who needs you. Jesus gets in a boat to go to a “desolate place,” and the point for going was to be alone. The disciples thought they were going to have a moment of retreat, a break from ministry. How many of us can relate? As a mom of two preschoolers, I have sought to retreat to the bathroom (my desolate place) looking for a few moments of privacy and alone time when all of a sudden my girls get there before I do. I understand and feel the pressure of being on call all the time. When potty breaks are no longer potty breaks or vacation is no longer vacation, then you understand a little of how these disciples were feeling.

If you are a wife, mother, daughter, employee, or friend to anyone, then there will be times when people need you. Many of us can tell stories of being interrupted during the middle of the night or the middle of work to tend to a need. It can be exhausting. However, in the midst of my tendency to grumble and complain, God convicted me of another truth. I could have no one wanting my attention. It is an honor and privilege to have people counting on us. Let us count it as joy.

Third, exhaustion is not an excuse for meanness. When I am exhausted from a lack of sleep, sick children, or defiant toddlers, it is easy and tempting to turn into “mean mommy.” I have said things to my children and husband at the height of my exhaustion, and I later regretted it. Our natural tendency is to dismiss this attitude (after all, God knows how tired I am). But, God shows us how we are to respond when we see the “great crowd” of needs pressing in on us. We are to be compassionate. The word “compassion” means “to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion.”[1] This word is frequently used of Jesus’ attitude towards the multitude and individual sufferers. In Jesus’ day, the bowels were thought to be the seat of the emotion. Therefore, when Scripture says that Jesus had compassion on the crowd, it does not mean that He just felt sorry for them. He felt love and pity for them, and it went down into His gut. It is the same meaning when we say, “That broke my heart.”

When we are tired, do we show our husband, children, or friends compassion or meanness? There are people all around us who are “like sheep without a shepherd.” In my life, those “sheep” are my girls. God has given them to me and called me to be their guide on earth. When we come to the end of our emotional and physical rope and we are about to snap, and then someone needs us…we are on. God has given us an opportunity to step up and show compassion.

Fourth, in God’s economy, rest is often IN the journey and not necessarily THE destination. Look back at verse 31. What was the point of the disciples getting into the boat? They were supposed to be getting away to rest. Did Jesus, who already knew the crowd was going to be there, lie or purposefully deceive them? Obviously, the answer is NO! In my life, I do not always have time to get a nap, a shower, or even go to the bathroom by myself. But, that does not mean that God has not provided me an opportunity to rest. Resting is not reserved to only a position, but it is a matter of the will and heart.

Isaiah 40:28-31 brings more clarity to this idea of rest. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

What type of people will have their strength renewed? It is the person who “waits for the Lord.” In verse 31, the Greek word for “wait” means “to wait or look eagerly for, to linger for, to hope or expect, and to bind together.”[2] As we come before God (in the midst of our crazy day and in the midst of our exhaustion), He causes our weariness to melt away. He causes us to sprout again with life and energy and gives us back our physical, spiritual, and emotional firmness. WOW!!! With God’s abiding strength, we can walk and then run in the midst of our crazy, busy day.

God is the only One who can take a tired woman who has lost her compassion and turn her into a caring woman who has strength for the day. Will you trust Him with your rest and for your rest? Will you be adventurous and take a chance on waiting before God? Will you allow Him to show you His rest in the middle of your crazy journey called life? My prayer is that we would all be willing.

Oh, and if by some act of God’s blessing you are offered the chance to take a nap or a long bubble bath, by all means, TAKE IT!!! You won’t be sorry!

[1] http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4697&t=ESV

[2] http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6960&t=KJV