We live in a world that tells us that we have to go, go go. It is a works based mentality that says we are only successful if we are constantly busy doing something. There is this often spoken, sometimes silent message that our worth comes from how much we can accomplish. We feel compelled to drive ourselves to the brink of exhaustion in the name of progress. We often do this with little acknowledgement or appreciation for our efforts.
This tendency in our culture, reminds me of Marth and Mary. Martha was anxious and troubled about all that needed to be done. She wanted everything to be perfect for the Savior’s visit and the company that was with HIm. Mary was recuperating at the feet of Jesus. She needed what she could only get from His presence. She knew that everything else could wait until after His visit.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”” Luke 10:38-42 ESV
It was not that Jesus did not appreciate the act of service that Martha was providing. He needed Martha to understand that while service is important, what is needed most is presence. God’s presence has a way of melting everything else away, even if just for a short time.
The midweek service for me has always been a place to sit in His presence and allow the stress of the week to melt away. It didn’t matter how rushed I felt getting there, sitting in His presence made it all fade away. All the terrible things that I saw as a child welfare worker, therapist, social worker in the psychiatric unit and medical hospital, or working with homeless parents all faded away in His presence. I could take whatever stress I was under and lay it at His feet, just as Mary did. It might still be there after, but for a while I can lay the burden down for Him to hold. Usually, even if I had to pick it back up, it seemed easier to bare after it had been laid at His feet. Solutions would come that were not there before. I needed time to recuperate.
We are called to follow Jesus. When He was here on earth and walking in ministry, he took time to withdraw and have some alone time with God. His earthly body needed to recuperate from the demands of people and ministry.
“Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all”
Matthew 12:15 ESV
“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.” Matthew 14:13 ESV
“And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.” Matthew 15:21 ESV
God is also there to help us recuperate when we have been stepping out for Him with success. He does not mean for us to carry anything alone. We recuperate by resting in Him. The world tried to tell us that taking time off or vacationing means that we are not being productive. We are called to step out and take on more special projects, more responsibilities, and give more time to work. There is this feeling of guilt for taking time off. People take a day off but still check in at work whether in person or through email. We find it hard to completely separate from our duties, whatever they may be. We know that work will pile-up if we are off or that we will have a mess to clean up that someone else created trying to help. But if Jesus needed to step away from ministry, how much more do we need to step away?
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
So often we carry so much, out of control, guilt, actual responsibility and wear ourselves out trying to carry it alone. I vividly remember a dream, I was arguing with my pastor about why I could not leave my job. Looking back, I saw it was a warning from God, in the moment I gave all the excuses, the people needed me, the financial need for my family, the responsibilities that I alone could carry. A few months later I was fired. All my excuses went out the window. After I got over the initial sting of it, I was talking at church to one of the young ladies I had worked with before I was fired. She commented on how relaxed and peaceful I seemed. She recognized the stress that I had carried, even though before the firing I did not see it. I spent the next three months rest in God’s presence, soaking up His Word. He knew I needed to recuperate even if I did not recognize it.
Another time we need to recuperate is when we have stepped out and things don’t turn out as we expect. It might be that timing was off. It might be be missed the mark completely. Or it could be that the resources we needed were not at our disposal because someone else failed to step out timely.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV
Grace is God’s gift to us to help us recuperate when we step out and miss the mark. In our weakness, He is there to minister His strength. When we have been tempted and step off the path He has for us, His grace is there to gently nudge us back where we need to be. We can boldly come before Him, even when we have messed up, because His mercy and grace will meet us there.
We all need to take time to recuperate. When we feel like the wait of the world is on our shoulders, we need to stop and take time to rest at His feet. When we are going strong in ministry and things are going just right, we need to take time to rest in Him and let Him carry the load. When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, we need to approach His throne and receive His grace and mercy to minister to our weakness. Regardless of if things are good or bad, we need to follow in Christ’s footsteps and take time to recuperate in God’s presence.
This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.