Perhaps one of the greatest disparities between Jesus’ lifestyle and that of his disciples today in developed countries, might be his willingness to withdraw from the hustle and bustle to rest and pray. Do we not recognize a certain badge of honor and pride in explaining to others how busy we are?
On the other hand, we’ve heard his stories. “Jesus often withdrew to deserted places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). Why did Jesus make the time while we can be tempted to believe we can not afford to take a break? What does this reveal about Christ and ourselves?
If we consider ourselves to be too busy for solitude and prayer, might this not reveal volumes about how we perceive the world? While there might be additional contributors, certainly some core ideas creating the mindset that rejects rest include: What matters is achieving _________. Success depends upon my energy and effort.
In other words, the reason I can not spend time in solitude and prayer is because my life depends upon me. Taking a break threatens success.
As long as progress continues, such thinking bolsters self-worth and self-importance. Ironically, it also reinforces an ever heavier and unrelenting burden upon us. Nevertheless, it can appear that the more energy we invest, the greater the reward. Life and success become dependent upon us.
While the scriptures acknowledge the value of work and denounce laziness (Prov. 6:10-11; 10:4), they also warn against the pitfall of framing success and measuring our lives built upon accomplishments (1 John 2:15-17; Mt. 16:25-26). Jesus modeled a mindset empowering a behavioral balance between these two spiritually dysfunctional extremes. On the one hand, the Gospels are filled with stories recounting Jesus working. On the other hand, since God provided his foundation and hope for the future, for Jesus to spend time in prayer and solitude only served to strengthen what is most important in life, not threaten it.
We would do well as disciples to also imitate Jesus’ discipline in taking time to withdraw from the hustle and bustle in order to pray. We just might discover greater peace in the midst of the turmoil.