The increasingly hectic lifestyle of our Western culture has us reaching for moments of stress relief and decompression. We look for a temporary change, for a time of rest.

Nestled in the book of Acts is a seemingly insignificant event in the life of the apostle Paul. Luke tells of how the evangelistic team left Philippi after the Easter celebration and took the five-day sea voyage to Troas. They spent seven days here, days that surely exhausted the physical and emotional reserves of these ardent laborers in God’s vineyard. On the final day, before an audience that was eager to eke out every morsel of spiritual food from the apostles, Paul preached until midnight, and then encouraged the faithful until dawn. The next day, the team boarded a ship headed to Assos. But Paul did not join them for the sea journey. Why not? Paul needed some down time. Instead of sailing with the rest to Assos, he decided to walk there, a journey of 25 kilometers. Was it just a jaunt through nature that he desired, or did he have another purpose?

I believe Paul wanted to be alone. After many days surrounded by people, and having spent countless hours preaching, counseling, and comforting, Paul needed time alone with the Lord. He needed to pray, to plead, to express his gratitude. He wanted a season of solitude in which he could look up to Christ, gather new strength, and renew his passion for the work. And when he arrived in Assos, the rejuvenated apostle rejoined the team to travel to a region close to Ephesus.

The Lord Jesus modeled this behavior for His disciples. In need of some quiet moments away from the multitudes, he said to the disciples, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). In a separate place, away from the bustle, they were to relax and unwind.

We all need these moments of quiet relaxation in which we find rest for our body and our soul. God tells us through Isaiah, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

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