"Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray." Mark 6:45,46
Knowing I was limited on time yesterday morning, I was still tempted to run a couple miles more than I planned at the expense of skipping my cool-down or the much needed time of walking, stretching and breathing after a workout. This important period when exercise is slowed (but not halted) and the body is allowed to gradually come to back to a resting, balanced state (homeostatis) is more important than you and I might think. Apart from the physical benefits, it is also the period when, thanks to the euphoric state brought on by the release of dopamine and serotonin, we can reflect back on the run, more easily meditate on God's provision and get ready for the day ahead.
And as much as we need these times of prayer and meditation each day, our busy lives and workloads can make it tempting to skip these cool-downs. In Mark 6:30-44, the story is told of the apostles and Jesus gathered together with a large crowd. After Jesus taught them many things, he fed this hungry crowd of 5,000 from five loaves and two fish. Talk about a huge workload! But immediately after completing his work or "workout", Jesus sent his disciples away, dismissed the crowd and went up to a mountainside to pray-to spend time with the Father, reflect on God's provisions and prepare for the tasks that lie ahead.
And following Jesus' example, in both our physical and spiritual lives, is the best way of keeping our lives balanced. We cannot sacrifice our time alone with the Lord to do the work he has called us to nor can we do what he has called us to if we have not discerned his will through prayer and meditation. So take the time each and every day for a cool-down to prepare for the tasks that lie ahead.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your example of how we are to approach our work and worship. Help us to serve you wholeheartedly by helping and serving others but to never neglect our alone and restorative time with you in the process. Help us to embrace the cool-down as we use it to meditate on what you have done and to prepare for what you would have us do next. It's in your precious name we pray Jesus. Amen.