Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” — Mark 6:31 (NIV)

With sweat streaming down her face, she squatted once again to dig the volleyball and pass it high enough for the setter to position it for spiking over the net. It was the second game in the tournament series, and her heart was hammering as she focused on the ball and on her teammates, working in rhythm with them. The goal of the championship spurred her on, pushing her body beyond its capabilities, stretching and straining as she prepared for every shot.

The whistle blew and her coach called time-out. As they huddled, he told her to take the bench and rest. Her body obeyed, but her heart protested. Every fiber of her being wanted to keep going, keep scoring, keep pushing. Her coach could see what she could not. If she didn’t stop, she was headed toward injury and a much longer season of bench sitting. It was time. She needed to stop awhile.

Have you been there? So busy you didn’t even have a chance to eat? Moving from one activity to the next, juggling multiple demands without pause, pushing, pushing, pushing? I’ve been there a time or three myself. And just like our volleyball player, when I’m in the middle of a big push to get things done, I don’t take kindly to benching. I want to stretch and strain and get it all done. It feels wrong to stop.

I’ve learned the hard way that I can either listen to my Coach and take a rest at least one day in seven—or I can be benched by sickness or weariness or depression. Just like an athlete needs time-out, so do we. Our bodies were not meant to run on adrenaline all the time. Our minds were not created to be constantly sorting through a myriad of details and needs and plans and deadlines and tasks.

God created us to work hard. Yes. He also created us with a need for rest. We need sleep every day, and if we don’t get enough, we cause serious damage to our bodies over time. Our minds need quiet spaces, times we aren’t thinking of a zillion projects on our to-do lists. Sometimes we need to run from multitasking and single task for a bit. Just sitting and reading. Or, just sitting.

When do you stop? Do you run until exhaustion forces you? How much better to build in times each day and each week and each year that are set apart for stillness, rest, and recovery. I challenge you to take a look at your calendar and start scheduling “rest times.” Say “no” when an activity collides into a day set apart to be still. If necessity demands you to work through a scheduled rest time, make sure you immediately reschedule. You need to rest. God tells you to rest. Rest is a gift. Take a seat on that bench. Be still and remember the One who is in charge of the universe—and relax in knowing it isn’t you. Like our athlete, if you take time out, you’ll return to the game with renewed energy and vigor. Want to win? Be willing to be benched.

Lord, please forgive me when I refuse Your call to give me rest! Help me to trust You enough to stop. To be still and know You better, my God and Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.