By Joanna Sheppard
Over the last several years, the UFC Mom’s Group has had many discussions about biblical self-care, which is the practice of setting aside time in the presence of the Lord to be filled with His strength and guidance as we care for our husband, children, friends, and extended family. It’s a topic that never grows old because we are always in need of the reminder to care for ourselves, and in the season we find ourselves, the need for refreshment is as present as ever, if not more so. But now we must be extra creative in order to carve out the time and space for it.
In His three years of active ministry here on earth, Jesus spent long days pouring out — healing injuries of body and heart and providing food for the hungry. He was constantly followed by a literal mob of people, who demanded His attention and urgently sought His help. I’m sure you can see the similarities in your own life.
Mark 1:33-34 reveals the intensity of one night in His shoes: “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door…”
Jesus knows our seasons of motherhood. He’s felt our exhaustion, the heaviness of responsibility, the loneliness of isolation, and the very real need to get away and rest. It was Jesus’ habit to wake early to pursue strength in the Father’s presence and to seek fresh wisdom for His calling. He did this the morning after that long night of healing the sick and casting out demons, which He had done all while hosting the entire town. I’m sure it wasn’t the easiest crowd to love. Mark 1:35 continues, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”
Christ’s example reveals that the first step of restoring ourselves for continued ministry is connection with the Source of life itself. Jesus knew that, tired as He was, nothing would be more helpful, life-giving, and encouraging than spending time with His Father. Throughout the four Gospel accounts, Jesus follows a consistent pattern of leaving the daily demands to pursue the LORD. Luke 5:15-16 tells us that “news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their illnesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
The Greek root word for withdraw is hypochōréō, meaning “to vacate down, retire quietly or withdraw oneself.” This requires faith, both that God knows our needs and has created a system to meet them — and carry our burdens that we cast aside in obedience to Him.
Real refreshment, the kind Jesus knew He would receive in the Father’s presence, doesn’t just happen. While caring for ourselves is essential for good stewardship of our bodies, minds, gifts, and responsibilities, it requires preparation, planning, and sacrifice. God knows how hard the demands of motherhood can be and the unique stressors we face today, and He wants to be our guide. I encourage you to set aside time each day in prayer to find this much-needed refreshment. Here are a few ideas to help you incorporate this holy withdrawing to connect with the Lord:
- Make yourself a coffee, grab your Bible, and communicate with your family that you’re taking a little time alone to read and to pray. Sit in your room, outside, or even in your car for a change of scenery. Then talk with your Heavenly Father about what’s on your heart.
- Take a solo walk around the neighborhood. Enjoy creation and listen to the Word read aloud on the Bible App, Streetlights or Dwell. Or use your walk as a time of prayer for your neighbors, friends, and those suffering around you.
- Read a chapter of the Bible with your kids at mealtime, bedtime, or quiet playtime. Discuss what you learned, act it out, or look up questions. Then pray together.
- Pray about the things that concern you. Keep a prayer journal, noting dates of requests and answers, lists of thanksgiving, etc. Say “Good Morning” to God when you get up and “Goodnight” as you lay down.
BONUS: Don’t miss UFC Women’s Daily Quarantine Questions, a great resource to print and place where you’ll see it often in the coming days. The list of questions is meant to help you keep your eyes focused on loving the Lord and others in this season at home.