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Invitation to Rest

The apostles now returned to Jesus from their tour and told him all they had done and what they had said to the people they visited. Then Jesus suggested, "Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest." For so many people were coming and going that they scarcely had time to eat. So they left by boat for a quieter spot. But many people saw them leaving and ran on ahead along the shore and met them as they landed. So the usual vast crowd was there as he stepped from the boat; and he had pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he taught them many things they needed to know. Mark 6:31-34 (TLB)

If an ax is dull and one doesn't sharpen it first, then one must exert more force. It's profitable to be skillful and wise. Ecclesiastes 10:10 (CEB)

For 28 years, Jennifer Hegeman, from Missouri, was consumed by her career as a faculty member and department chair at a local university. As with most educators, her job didn't end when she left campus for the day. Although her husband encouraged Jennifer to take time for rest and renewal, she often worked late into the evening to prepare for the next day.

But at the start of her 29th year at the university, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Rest was no longer optional. To ensure she had adequate strength to continue serving her students and colleagues, Jennifer became more intentional about setting aside time every day to engage in restful activities, including prayer and reading scripture. She found the daily act of resting in God's presence to be especially helpful in calming her mind, body, and soul so that she could face the next challenge.

Jennifer imagines her experience with rest is similar to what the apostles must have experienced when Jesus invited them to rest after they returned from their travels. Sometimes we do not prioritize resting in God's presence until we experience a stressful life event. As painful as Jennifer's cancer diagnosis was, it saved her life by teaching her how to rest.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for calling us to rest in your presence, strengthening our minds, bodies, and souls for all you have for us to do, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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