But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places……
The first time I ever heard the term sabbatical was several years ago. I believe that it was referring to a certain person who was taking off work to go on a sabbatical. I am not sure what I understood by that but it sounded to me like they were going on a cruise or something similar.
Once I understood the concept, I found it fascinating. According to Wikipedia a sabbatical is a rest from work, or a break that lasts from two months to a year. How nice! My first reaction was unbelief. How can anybody afford to take off from work for a year? Clearly only the wealthy can afford sabbatical.
Apparently I am not the only one thinking this. According to an article published in Forbes “Considering […] the prospect of taking just a week off can throw many people into a task-delegating, calendar-clearing frenzy, taking a prolonged break–by quitting a job, or taking a paid or unpaid leave–can seem downright insane.” The article, however, does not stop there. It adds that “a sabbatical (a word derived from the word “sabbath,” for rest) can have enormous long-term benefits if you have the determination to do it.”
Among the benefits mentioned are health benefits and avoiding job burnout. Others are developing new skills and clarification on the direction that needs to be taken.
Luke 5 takes us back to the time Jesus chose his disciples. It also describes some of the healing he performed and how suddenly his popularity grew. From a business stand point Jesus was checking all the right boxes. He picked suitable associates, performed extremely well and gain in popularity. When this happens in the business world, you do not stop. We all know that success comes when you beat the iron while it is still hot.
Yet Jesus chose to do the opposite. He withdrew himself to desolate places. He took a sabbatical while he was on the up and coming. This behavior is recorded on several occasions in all the gospels.
Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain …
Matthew 14:23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain …
Mark 1:35,36 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, …
Mark 6:46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
Every time Jesus withdrew, he prayed. He shut the world out to tune in with his father. In order to keep on doing what he was called to do, Jesus needed to take a sabbatical and get clarification.
How about you? How is your pace? How heavy are the demands on your life? Do you like the idea of a sabbatical but do not believe that you can afford it? My question to you is that you cannot afford not to take a sabbatical. There is no work more important than to spend time in a desert place to connect with God.
As we are entering the Christmas season, I encourage you to take a sabbatical. Spend this time with the people that matter the most. Take a break from finding that one perfect gift for your loved ones and instead spending time making memories that will last a lifetime. Take a break from Facebook and instead sip hot chocolate by the fireplace with your favorite squeeze. Take a break from showing everybody how fancy your Christmas cookies are and instead make a few crooked and maybe dismembered gingerbread men with your toddler.
Take a sabbatical this season to simply be and live this moment that God has granted you. Feel His presence, invite Him in your midst and welcome His rest.
- Read Luke 6:12. What was the result of Jesus withdrawing to a desert place?
- Read Mark 1:35-38. How did the disciples feel about Jesus being by himself? What clarification did Jesus get in verse 38?
- How can following Jesus’ example bring clarity to your life right now?
- Identify one thing you need to take a sabbatical from this season and commit yourself to doing it.