And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:31 ESV
I took the above photo when we camped at 9,000 feet on Mount San Jacinto. I’m not a true outdoorsy-type. I prefer crystal blue pools and fancy drinks with umbrellas, but this place turned out to be amazing. We drove to Palm Springs and took the tram up the mountain. Then, my family and I strapped on lightweight backpacks and hiked up two more miles. Apart from a group of Girl Scouts, we spent the night alone at the top! The air was laced with the scent of pine, it was cool, and the night sky was brilliant. We experienced beauty in this desolate place.
Apart from beauty, what are other reasons why Jesus might want us to get away?
It’s interesting that Jesus had to coach the disciples on when to take a break. I guess even back then, the ministry grind was grueling. In this scripture, Jesus told the disciples to get away together. There is a time for personal solitude, but there is also a time for family and leadership to go away together.
If you’re like most people in ministry, you find it difficult to take time off. Sometimes it’s easier to keep spinning the plates yourself, rather than handing them off. The truth is, one of them might break if you’re not there to catch it.
However, there are reasons why Jesus wants us to get away.
1. Finding a desolate place can give you perspective.
This trip to Mt. San Jacinto gave me perspective on our family dynamics. We worked together to get water, cook freeze-dried macaroni and cheese, and put up tents. I came down the moutain with a renewed sense of togetherness (one I don’t usually receive on hotel vacations). I appreciated my husband’s strength and talent, and my girls’ spunk and adventurous nature. We laughed a lot, too. The same can happen when you retreat with your family or church staff.
2. Getting away allows you to unplug.
I have discovered the magic of Twitter, which isn’t always a good thing. In a desolate place, you are forced to give up facetime with your phone and computer. Older generations don’t understand why younger people constantly stare at their phones. Peel your attention away from your devices, and you will be reminded (like me) that there is an interesting world apart from trending topics and your best friend’s latest baby pics. Oh, and nobody can get a hold of your husband to ask him questions or for his help. During your brief trip away, someone else will be there to fill in for him.
3. Enjoying solitude can help you recall vision.
The great outdoors can give you space to think, and remember what’s important. As the wind whispers through the trees, allow your mind to journey back to the time when your ministry was a spark of passion in your soul. Listen to God speak. What aspect of your vision has been lost, or altered, in the hectic pace of ministry?
Get away, even though it takes planning and resources. Jesus commands it because He knows you need it.