Mark 6:31-32 says this,
“31 And He *said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 32 They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.”
The Lord Jesus in this passage reminds us of the truth that there is indeed a time to work but also a time to rest. The Lord is repeating the very theme taught in the 4th of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:8-11 begins with the commandment: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” As the LORD further explains this commandment, He reminds us of the pattern of working six days and resting on the sabbath. I want to keep in mind that when I speak of work, I mean more than just work that you are paid for. In the case of those who are retired, you have work to do, work regarding household projects, volunteering, traveling to see family members at a distance, or even serving your local church. This type of work is often something you could not do while you worked for pay because there just weren’t enough hours in the day. So, when we utilize the word “work” we are using in a broad way, beyond how you make a living.
God gives us this pattern of work and rest and tells us that this pattern was mirrored in His work of creation in that the LORD made the heavens and the earth in the six days of creation, but rested on the seventh day. We see in this the pattern of work and rest. If we “push the envelope” by working without proper rest, we only hurt ourselves and go against the pattern built into our humanity by God Himself.
Jesus pays attention to this principle in Mark 6 as He tells His disciples to come away from their normal schedule and go to a secluded place to get some rest. They had become so busy that they didn’t have time to eat. Talk about being overworked, overcommitted or in need of rest…if you are too busy to eat, you have definitely crossed the line! Our Lord tells the disciples that they all need to go to a secluded place, away from the crowds, for some R and R, rest and relaxation.
An important part of getting our bodies and souls re-charged is taking time for silence, reflection, and prayer. Since God has made us in His image with a body and a soul, what we do with our bodies will impact our soul and vice versa. Specifically, what I have in my mind is that if we don’t find time to rest, then our souls: our heart, mind, and spirit, will be impacted by our lack of rest. A person’s body and soul interact and influence one another. We must maintain a proper balance between work and rest. We were created by God to do both, and we must keep a proper balance – not overdoing either work or rest, being neither a workaholic nor a sluggard. I realize I haven’t answered the question of how much to work per day or how much to sleep, but I believe God’s gives us guidance even in these details. In other words, God wants us to make prudent choices as we make time for sleeping, eating, and caring for household responsibilities and other duties towards our families. God in His mercy gives us this proper balance in Mark 6, in harmony with the order set out in the 4th Commandment. We will enter seasons in life which have a heavier load of work than others but let us be mindful of how many commitments we make, properly counting the cost in order to avoid burnout. May God give us wisdom and prudence in these matters.