Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

November 7, 1893

“Come Ye Yourselves Apart, ... and Rest Awhile”

By Mrs. E. G. White

The disciples were members of the family of Jesus, and he arranged that they should accompany him as he traveled on foot through the length and breadth of Palestine. They partook with him of the simple food provided for their physical sustenance, and shared with him in the hardships, toils, and emergencies that overtook them. Jesus sent his disciples forth by two and two into all the towns and villages that he himself purposed to visit. He imparted to them the power to work miracles, in order that the people might have evidence that they were not pretenders, but teachers of divine truth, sustained by divine authority. While he did not accompany them in these missionary tours, he visited other cities, and engaged in the same toilsome, personal labor, practiced the same rigid self-denial, and was their example in all things. He made it manifest that “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Jesus did not impose burdens upon his followers which he did not himself bear. He asked, “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth.”

Let us be careful to follow his example, and feel that we are responsible for the performance of the same duties which we lay upon others to perform. Let us not enjoin upon others that which we will not do ourselves. Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees because they bound upon their brethren burdens which were grievous to be borne, which they themselves would not touch with one of their fingers. In our day there are those who, while urging and exhorting their brethren to greater efforts, fail to set them an example in zeal and effort for the cause of God. Those who urge upon others the performance of duties, must themselves be the first to engage in the good work, or their instruction will lose its force. The world's Redeemer did thus, and we are to follow in his footsteps.

The disciples gathered around Jesus after their first missionary tour, and told him all things which they had done. They related their experience with frankness and simplicity, telling him of both their successes and their failures. The Master listened with tender sympathy to their earnest recital of their difficulties and triumphs, and approved or encouraged as the experience demanded. They came and told Jesus all that they had done. How much stronger and happier would we be if we came to Jesus, confiding in him, and telling him all our joys and sorrows, our trials, our failures and successes. We should daily come to him, saying, “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. For thy loving-kindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth.” We shall receive the answer, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way that thou shalt go. I will guide thee with mine eye.” Our experience will be expressed by the words of the psalmist, when he says, “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”

When the disciples related all their experience to Jesus, he understood their need. Their labor had greatly elated and encouraged them, but it had also worn upon them. Many were coming and going in the place where they were, and there was not leisure so much as to eat. He saw that they had made mistakes in their manner of work, and he desired to counsel and instruct them, he said unto them, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile.” A desert place did not mean a waste and solitary wilderness, but a place of retirement and quiet, pleasant to the eyes and invigorating to the body. They sought such a place near a favorite resort on the sea of Galilee. To the north and west were the lofty mounts of Lebanon and Hermon, and to the south was the lake. Near this resort was one of the most frequented fords of the Jordan on the road from Damascus to Jerusalem. The truths he there preached to the people were heard by many who carried the precious messages to far distant regions. Here he sought for an opportunity to impart to his disciples instructions as to how they should conduct themselves in meeting different classes of society. They did not always appreciate these lessons at the time when they were spoken, but after his resurrection, when the Holy Spirit brought all things to their remembrance, they understood the importance of his teaching.

It was essential that Jesus should instruct them; for they were to go forth to preach the gospel to all the nations. In their first missionary tour they had worked diligently and manifested intense earnestness, preaching the kingdom of God, and healing the diseases of the people. They now needed a period of rest and reflection. The Christian life is not made up of unceasing activity, or of continual meditation....Christians must work earnestly for the salvation of the lost, and they must also take time for contemplation, for prayer, and the study of the word of God. It will not do to be always under the strain of the work and excitement, for in this way personal piety is neglected, and the powers of mind and body are injured. We are to be “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” But the oil of grace must be in our vessels with our lamps. If we wait upon God for his heavenly grace, we shall manifest his power in good works.

Jesus knew that his disciples after their busy labors would derive great benefit by engaging in private communion with him and with their brethren. He knew that a season of rest and recreation, apart from the multitude and the scene of their labors, would invigorate them, and he sought to withdraw them from busy cities to a quiet resort where they might have a season of precious fellowship with him and with each other. Would that all missionaries and workers in the various branches of the cause of God would bear in mind that though Jesus could work miracles, though he had empowered his disciples to work miracles, he commanded that his worn followers should go apart into the country for rest. Self-denial is required of the disciples of Christ, and self-sacrifices must be made; but care must also be exercised lest through human infirmity and feebleness the work of God be marred. The Lord knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are but dust. Our God is ever merciful, full of compassion, and reasonable in all his requirements. He does not require that we shall pursue a course of action that will result in the loss of our health or the enfeeblement of our powers of mind. He would not have us work under a pressure and strain until exhaustion follows, and prostration of the nerves. The Lord has given us reason, and he expects that we shall exercise reason, and act in harmony with the laws of life implanted within us, obeying them that we may have a well-balanced organization. Day follows day, and each day brings its responsibilities and duties, but the work of tomorrow must not be crowded into today. The workers in the cause of God should feel how sacred is its character, and they should prepare themselves for tomorrow's work by a judicious employment of their powers today.

The disciples of Jesus needed to be educated as to how they should labor, and how they should rest. Today there is need that God's chosen workmen should listen to the command of Christ to go apart and rest awhile. Many valuable lives have been sacrificed, that need not have been through ignorance of this command. Many might be with us today to help forward the work both at home and in foreign lands, had they but realized that they were required but to work reasonably and take required rest, in order that they should not wear out by continual labor. These workers saw that the field was large, and the work was great, and they were wedded heart and soul to the cause, and felt that they must press on at whatever cost. When nature put in her protest, they paid no heed, doing double the work that they should have done, and God gave them rest in the grave until the last trump sounds, and calls the righteous forth to glorious immortality. But what a loss have the living workers sustained! We cannot afford to have this experience repeated; for a tomorrow is coming that will call for every laborer who can work judiciously. Though the harvest is great, and the laborers are few, nothing is gained by sacrificing health and life.

There are always persons who spare themselves, and who come far short of bearing their share of responsibility. They can talk of great and crushing burdens, but they know not what it is to bear them. Their work yields but meager results, and it is evident that it is not this class who are addressed when Jesus says, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile.” There are many feeble, worn workmen who feel deeply distressed when they see how much there is to be done, and how little they can do. How they long for physical strength to accomplish more; but it is to this class that Jesus says, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile.”

(To be continued.)

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