Rest a While - A Reflection on Mark 6:30-34
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves 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 deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
When I read some of these passages, the things that God says can pinch pretty hard because you know that you are being disobedient to his commands. Today was one such occasion. I dare say it will pinch pretty much everybody because I doubt there are many of us who do what he asks. And that is to rest. That does seem rather strange, because I’m sure we’d all like to rest. However, it appears that very few of us get the time. And some just don’t have the inclination. So let’s look at this command today.
“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while,” Jesus tells his apostles who have been exhausted ministering to people. There are four elements to this instruction, and there is something to be discovered in each element. “Come away.” “To a deserted place.” “All by yourselves.” “And rest a while.”
People call me up sometimes. “How are you?” they ask. “Busy, as usual,” I answer. Which is true, because I am pretty busy doing all these things for God, and I seem to suggest by my response that I am busy that my life has some meaning to it because I am busy. But then, you read something like this and you realize there might be such a thing as being too busy, and that might not be a good thing. So what’s the cure.
“Come away,” Jesus says. Note he doesn’t say, “Go away.” He wants us to come with him, because that’s where we are going to find our rest. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened,” he says elsewhere. If we go away, chances are we might end up in places we shouldn’t be in. Then he says, “To a deserted place.” I have noticed that when people go for retreats, they often go for a retreat center, where there are sometimes thousands of people.
These have their functions, but if we really want a recharge, we should try retreats where we are totally on our own. This can be pretty scary so, if you are doing this for the first time, I suggest a guided retreat, and once you have discovered how special these times can be, you might wanna skip the guide totally. The next thing that Jesus says emphasizes his point. “By yourselves,” he says. That’s you, all by yourself. And finally he says, “rest a while”. It’s a temporary state, and once recharged, we can get back to work.
You take care now; I’m going to rest for a while.