We live in a very fast-paced world and it seems like we can never keep up with all the demands of this speed. We try harder and work faster and stay busy longer, yet it seems like the people who demand a piece of our time are more numerous than we can handle.
How does this make you feel? Frustrated? Worried? Angry? Tired? These feelings are warning signs that we need to schedule more time for ourselves, alone with God. But we feel guilty if we slow down for our own sake!
In the Gospel reading (Luke 5:12-16), Jesus shows us that we should not feel guilty. It’s good spiritual medicine to go away from the busy world and, for a little while, forget the hectic demands of normal life. It’s the principle of the Sabbath, the biblical day of rest that God himself took. Did the Creator need to restore lost energy after making the universe? Of course not. It’s an example set for our benefit.
The Sabbath is not really about a particular day of the week; it’s about prioritizing good mental, physical and spiritual health. As Jesus became more popular, the demands on his time increased. So did his human need to spend time away from it, alone with the Father. He didn’t wait for the crowds to subside. He didn’t finish his checklist of tasks before withdrawing. He made Sabbath-thinking a normal priority.
Jesus could not have given himself fully to the crowds if he hadn’t spent time giving himself fully to the Father and sitting quietly long enough to receive fully from the Father. We cannot give to others what we don’t have, and we cannot receive it if we don’t take time to nurture our relationship with God.
If we don’t spend time letting the Father nurture our spirits, how can we overcome the temptations of the flesh? How can we feel joyful instead of frustrated? How can we be at peace instead of worried? How can we remain calm when things go wrong? How can we find renewed energy when an unexpected demand hits us after we’re already tired?
Where is your deserted place? The busier you are, the more you need to spend time there. The harder it is to be alone with God without distractions, the more you need a quiet place.
When is your pre-scheduled, top-priority prayer time? This is the most important time of your day. Take what you need!
What if you’ve been nodding your head vigorously to these words but you simply don’t see a way to take the time off you need for vacation or a Sabbath or daily quiet time with God? Try what I’ve done: Pick a time, put it on the calendar, announce to everyone that this sacred event is set in stone, and entrust the “how? where?” of it to God. He’ll figure out a great plan.