God himself saw fit to “rest” when he was creating the world, but some of his creatures have convinced themselves that they cannot be spared long enough to take a rest. Busy at our jobs, in our churches, and elsewhere, many of us find it hard to take a real vacation. Even if we separate ourselves from our working places, we are likely to line up so much other activity that true rest is an impossibility.

It is not unreasonable to suppose that there is a point beyond which we cannot push ourselves. Yet most people would agree that the body, mind, and spirit are refreshed and renewed by periods of repose. As Miguel de Cervantes put it some four centuries ago, “the bow cannot always stay bent, nor can human frailty subsist without some lawful recreation.”

It has been the experience of many that putting off vacations and a change of pace results in a deteriorating psychological and spiritual situation. They have found that incessant labor leaves one open to frustration and depression and even invites temptations. The smallness of our world, the fact that we are living closer and closer together, accentuates the problem.

We must keep in mind that leisure is a requirement, a divine principle wrought in man in his humanity. This was made clear by Jesus himself; in Mark 6:31 we read that he asked the disciples to come apart into the desert for a rest, because “there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” One commentator aptly notes how it was plain that the apostles were overwrought and excited and needed refreshment. “This is one of the needed lessons for all preachers and teachers, occasional change and refreshment,” he adds. “Even Jesus felt the need of it.… Change was a necessity.”

Somehow this principle ...

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