What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? To follow him? Does it mean we need to be just like him? (Bad news: Won’t work.) Does it mean we need to do, do, do (ministry, spiritual disciplines, and so much more)? (One word: burnout.)
Of course we do aim to be more like Christ and, through the work of the Holy Spirit within us, we cultivate God-honoring character in our lives. And yes, we practice disciplines, minister to others, and model our lives after the actions and values of Jesus. But there’s another way Jesus beckons us to follow him. And this following? It blesses. It refreshes. It’s what we truly need. (And of course, Jesus knew that all along.)
After a time of crazy, exciting, exhausting, and intense ministry, the disciples came back to Jesus to report on all that had happened. What did he say? “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).
Jesus himself made a regular habit of withdrawing for time alone: time to pray, to recalibrate, to commune with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. (For example, see Mark 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44; and 5:16.) In these times of quiet and solitude there’s a kind of rest that’s deeper than mere physical sleep: It’s the rest our souls really need.
So as you think about living as a disciple of Jesus this year—as you set spiritual growth goals and as you ponder what it means to follow him—be sure to follow him where he often went: to a place of solitude. Answer Jesus’ invitation to come away with him to a quiet place by yourself; find and protect moments (even if they’re very short!) when you can be quiet, can be calm, can be one-on-one with God. Here you can listen, you can be real, you can find true rest.
[Readers, stay tuned! Next week as we wrap up our January discussion of discipleship I’ll be featuring a brand new interview with spiritual formation writer Keri Wyatt Kent. And in February we’ll explore the topic of marriage!]