This past Monday, I stayed home and had a real holiday. We grilled burgers, enjoyed God’s creation, and spent time with my parents. The day was relaxed, tasks were undemanding, and deadlines were done and gone. I didn’t brutalize my body with one of the annual holiday routines at my gym, and I slept in the next morning.
The past few months, however, were filled with reading, visits to a library, searching for sources, academic writing, outdoor church workdays, a graduation, and hosting a pastor’s conference. Somewhere in it all God graciously gave me time to spend with my family week by week. Each task was a joy because it was for Christ and His Great Commission in some way.
After my last run to a library near Chicago, I parked my car and pulled up Ecclesiastes 12:12 on my phone: “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” That verse has been on my mind a bit these past few months. Especially when that weariness was compounded by a 2-week bout with Covid-pneumonia. What an energy drainer. Thankfully, God’s grace and strength helped me to recover and get through these past months. Hopefully, I’ll be able to better fear God and keep His commandments as a result (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14).
My experience is similar to anyone who ministers. You go through a busy season of study and service, soldier through it, drag yourself over the finish line, and collapse on your back at the end. The key is to stay down long enough to recover your oxygen. Work hard, rest, then go back at it.
The disciples had a time like this in Mark 6:31: “Many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” So, Jesus commanded them, “Come away by yourself to a desolate place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31). They needed the rest—they were soon serving again (Mark 6:32–34).
When it comes to ministry, be diligent, work hard, and realize there are times when you’ll need to lose sleep (cf. Mark 14:32–42; 2 Corinthians 11:27). But realize also that the body can only take so much, and it may need an extra dose of rest after an exceptionally busy time. Like the disciples, sometimes we need to get away, rest awhile, and then get back at it again.
On a personal note, I’ve enjoyed a busy season of study and am grateful to have had some time to recover from the weariness that it brought. And for all the hours it stole from my time to write this and that on this site, I hope to be an encouragement with more posts in the days ahead.
All quotes ESV