I am on a plane to Detroit. It is time for the bi- annual Ehman family reunion. We have now swelled to 39 folks including my husband’s three sisters, their spouses and all their kids and grandkids. The favorite family activities are coffee drinking and morning walks. But there will also be time for pontoon boat rides and charades. As I board the plane, my mind races with stuff that still needs to be done at the office or at home. But already I feel my body relaxing and preparing to just be.
Jesus felt this same pull. Standing on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, the crowds pushed and pulled and asked him to do “one more thing” but he stepped onto the boat and withdrew to a deserted place to rest. I sometimes wonder how Jesus walked away from a leper begging for healing, a mother seeking bread for her children, a lawyer seeking spiritual guidance. Did he feel the pressure to save the world? Did he know that his life would end in his early 30s and his days to make a difference would be limited?
Repeatedly in scripture we are told that Jesus hit the pause button. Life was not just about doing. The one we follow pulled away from the demanding responsibilities to hang out with God. I picture him praying in a garden at sunset, taking a nap in a hammock, slipping into the back row of the synagogue to reflect on God’s words. He took time to remember who he was and to let God restore his spirit.
Perhaps the challenge is not believing that we need to rest and renew, but believing that resting and not being productive are actually holy. Jesus said, “Come to me, all ye who are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” And St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until we rest in thee, oh God.” The God who created us empowered us to do great work. But that God also invites us to simply “be still and know that I am God,” and to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are embraced by a holy love born of heaven.