“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” Mark 6:30-34
He had just been rejected in His home town by offended, accusing nay-sayers, His cousin and friend John the Baptist had just been cruelly, capriciously beheaded, and yet Jesus kept on, focused on His mission. Grief and being spurned were a very real part of life, as was pressure to work and teach and serve, but the Rabbi knew the importance of rest, and taught His disciples by example. It was vital for those who would follow Jesus to get away with Him, for leisure and rejuvenation. His communion with His Father is what clarified His priorities, renewed His energy, and fueled His lovingkindness toward the crowd. At once, many more chased Him down, needs and demands multiplied, winds of resistance blew, but Jesus was calm, orderly, in control. Fixed on His God, He lived moment by moment in His power and peace.
For us, as in this story, the flurry of temptation to activity, the pressure to check off to-dos and meet demands and expend ourselves to exhaustion, never wanes. We have one more load, email, task, appointment, note, chapter, errand… added to the weight of all that has gone undone, the unmet intentions, frustrated plans, still-unconfirmed decisions. Our self-imposed frenzy can often distract and muddy our thinking, deplete our strength, even rob our joy. It is imperative we regularly ‘come away’ with our Savior, to leave the coming and going, turn off the devices, close the door, and be still. Do we deliberately schedule, and guard, this time? We cannot control every interruption, sadness, practical need, or emergency, but we can take control of many factors that assure needed rest in Him.
Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne, Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief, My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare, By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!
Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face, Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care, And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer! ~William W. Walford (1845)
My Lord, keep me accepting Your loving invitation to be with You, to believe Your word, and trust Your grace. May the soul rest I find in Thee supply all I need for life’s pressing crowds.