I remember long road trips with my family, Mom and Dad up front, my little brothers and me in the back seat. We took quite a few growing up, all along the eastern seaboard, from Maine to the Florida Keys. It’s been said, “the joy is as much in the journey as in the destination”, which is often true. However, with a station wagon back seat full of squirming, rowdy little boys, for hours on end, I’m sure my folks were more than happy to complete each trip.
Along the way, for my brothers and me, the rest stops were as much fun as the destinations. Aside from the obvious “potty breaks”, frequent with little dudes, we looked forward to the snack and drink machines, the travel brochures, and at state rest stops, the playgrounds and mini-museums. Some even had campsites, which our family utilized on occasion. Big thrills for little guys.
Rest stops are a welcome break from the speed, traffic, monotony, and at times the danger, of the highways. As a motorcyclist, I welcome these spaces when traveling. They are opportunities to rest, relieve, renew, refocus, and recharge. We all need these “rest stops” in our daily lives as well, these “turnouts” to restore us- body, mind, and spirit.
Jesus took regular rest stops during His journey down here on earth. Alone or with His little band of disciples, Jesus turned aside often to take a break from the crowds, from the critics, from the cares of daily life. In Mark 6, after rejection in His home town, the murder of His cousin John the Baptist by King Herod, the sending out of the disciples to proclaim the Kingdom, and the daily crush of people wanting to see, hear, touch, and experience some of Jesus’ power, Jesus suddenly tells the guys, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile.” (v.31) So they hopped a boat, sailed off to a quiet place, and attempted to take a much-needed vacation. That was interrupted, of course, which is another story for another time.
The point is, if God “rested on the seventh day” (Genesis 2:2-3), i.e. “ceased from labor”, then left the command for us to do so, and if Jesus Himself took regular rest stops, how much more do we need this oft-neglected practice of sabbath rest? In fact, the word “sabbath” literally means “to rest, to cease from labor”. Just like our electronic devices need to be set down, turned off, and plugged in to reboot, restore, and recharge, so too we are divinely programmed for the same.
When we are “burning the candle at both ends”, “burning the midnight oil”, ultimately we will “burn out.” Let’s take advantage of the rest stops along the road of life. The older I get, the more I see the value in them. And I find Jesus there, inviting me to spend some time with Him, “at the picnic table under the pines”, so to speak.