“And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”” Mark 6:31
It comes as no surprise that the tourism industry has suffered greatly in the last several years. Air travel is expected to climb to 3.4 billion passengers this year from 2.3 billion in 2021, but still down from 4.5 billion in pre-pandemic 2019. It may be interesting to note that the top three destinations for international outdoor enthusiasts are first, Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica, second, Jim Corbett National Park in India, and third, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The top US destination for outdoor adventurers is Denali National Park in Alaska, while the # 1 tourist attraction in Canada remains Niagara Falls. The most popular reason for travel, cited by American travellers, is rest and relaxation.
Since the dawn of time, God has designed rest for His people. God Himself needed no rest from His work of creation, but He created a seventh day of rest for the good of mankind. But in addition to a day of rest, lengthier seasons of rest and relaxation are very beneficial physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. The disciples, having endured a busy day of preaching, casting out demons and healing the sick, return to Jesus, only to be thronged by the multitudes. And Jesus invites them to come away by themselves to a quiet place and rest. As a human, Jesus understood weariness and fatigue. He knew what it was to become worn down, and he knew the importance of rest.
Summer is often a time of rest and relaxation, of travel and vacation. And we thank God for these seasons in which we can slow down and rest a while. Yet while we take a break from our regular routines, it is vital that we maintain our spiritual disciplines. Jesus found the greatest rejuvenation not simply in lying on a beach, or clearing His mind in solitude, but in spending precious, private time in sweet communion with His Father (Luke 5:16). May summer find us, not so consumed by the vacation patterns of the world, that we lose sight of the most blessed rest available – sweet communion with our blessed Saviour in prayer, and with His bride, the church, in worship!