Whenever I have read about the great missionary men and women of the faith, I have often realized a pattern that helped strengthen and redirect their ministry in times of great stress or difficulty. That pattern often includes what is often known as a furlough. A furlough, or break, often has redefined ministry for some of the great ministers through the ages. Not only has this pattern of “work, break, reformulate, then work again”, shaped our modern examples of ministers but our biblical ministers also often followed this pattern. God calls us to observe a day of rest known as the Sabbath (a practice established in the Old Testament (Ex. 20:8; Duet. 5:14) and continuously illustrated and observed in the new as exemplified several times in Acts (Acts 16-20)). The word Sabbath, in the Old Testament, comes from the Hebrew word Shabath which means – rest (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H7673). We as ministers need periods of rest. Daily, weekly, monthly, and/or seasonally we all need times to take a break. Jesus often exemplified this in His ministry and I have found it to be necessary in my own life.
Sometimes our periods of rest all look different. Some might rest through a period of solitary prayer, some with physical sleep, some with new surroundings or a fresh view, but all modes of rest require us to stop the work and refocus. We all need quiet and still moments of rest as the Bible tells us, yet sometimes we need to rest in other ways as well. When my husband and I were dating we would go exploring and visit new places or try new things whenever things got too stressful. Just seeing new surroundings often put things in perspective. My husband is a homebody and often sees rest differently then I do. I love the adventure and visiting new places best and he loves a good day of relaxation and video games to take a break from the stress, in addition to our quiet times. That is something we have had to learn to balance as we progress and grow in our marriage. I have learned, however, that no matter how you relax or reset we all need to make time for it. If I want to keep my eyes focused and be a mama who keeps herself ministry minded I need to remember to take time to reset and I need to make sure I give my husband the time to do so as well. I can’t expect him to rest and reset how I do all the time and thankfully he doesn’t expect me to always rest as he does. Both are important.
I am thankful that God has given us the chances He has to rest. I hope He gives those who struggle for Him alongside us furlough time as well, so we can all remain ministry minded and strong for Him. The work is plentiful, the workers are few, but we have a God who can take a mustard seed of faith and impact a nation. Why shouldn’t we trust Him to use our times of rest to refresh us so we can better serve those around us?