“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” – Psalm 29:11

On a trip to California Louise and I enjoyed four days of relaxation in Monterey. It was calming and beautiful. There is something about strolling along a quiet beach that brings an escape from the many challenges and occasional problems we encounter.

Ever since we entered ministry we have maintained a rather busy pace. Someone recently reminded us that we have always been that way. We appreciate and feel privileged that our ministry is in high demand from churches interested in more effectively reaching their congregations and communities for Christ. We also feel very blessed that we have a team of very creative and gifted people committed to the cause of making disciples. We feel blessed of God that He would use our humble ministry as a vehicle to motivate and train so many lay leaders around the nation.

And with our passion for ministry comes a desire to try and keep balanced. Christ regularly took time off to escape and be with God. Throughout scripture we see how God meets man in the “quiet places” of His creation.

When God spoke to Moses, on top of a mountain and in the Sinai desert, the hectic pace of the Egyptian palace was far way. God finds Jacob’s undivided attention in a wadi somewhere in Mesopotamia. The prophet Elijah went to the wilderness to counsel with God as did John the Baptist.

When the disciples were just beginning their very busy ministry Christ asked them to return from their journey so that they might report on their work and experience some rest. Jesus could have told them to continue their efforts for there were many souls yet to be saved. Instead Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while.”

I confess that my passion for ministry and working hard is such that I don’t always follow the lead of our Savior on this important aspect of life. I’m doing better about managing stress and balancing life’s priorities, but have not mastered the art of taking enough retreats and get-aways to be appropriately refreshed and restored so He can re-launch me for another day.

We all make excuses for not doing what God commands us to do – take a Sabbath rest. We convince ourselves we either don’t deserve it or can’t afford to take that needed break. But the reality is we can’t afford not to take the needed rest to revitalize our spirit.

While in Monterey we took a short trip to Big Sur and visited a small log house set amongst the tall redwood trees. As Louise and I enjoyed an artichoke and glass of ice tea, we gazed upon the magnificent vista of the crashing surf below. What a contrast. We were relaxed and reflective as the surf bashed itself wildly upon the rocks and sand.

Nepenthe, an isle of no-care, is the name given to this 97-year old log cabin/gift shop. Nepenthe is a word derived from the Greek, meaning “no sorrow.” A mythical Egyptian drug, the wife of Thonis – King of Egypt, gave it to Helen, daughter of Jove, to induce forgetfulness and freedom from sorrow. The word and thought have been used in literature through all time. Homer mentioned it in “The Odyssey”. Poe talked about it in “The Raven”, “Quaff oh quaff this kind Nepenthe and forget the lost Lenore.”

As we move into the winter months let’s not forget to find those quiet places to fellowship with God. He will help us forget the sorrow in our lives and move to a place of Nepenthe.

May God Bless You! ~ Jim Grassi