Monday, July 23, 2012

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.
Mark 6:31

The twelve apostles have returned from their first mission. 
They had been sent off in pairs.
Jesus had ordered them to take nothing with them except a staff sandals and a single tunic.
No money, no food, nothing. 
Their mission would be tough.
They would be reliant on the goodwill of others.
On their mission they cast out demons, healed the sick and called everyone to repentence.

This was the first mission by the first believers.

It must have been an amazing and exciting time.
The fervour of new belief, the conviction of God’s truth and the immense sense of purpose, combined with the authority to heal and exorcize must have been quite a heady feeling for this bunch of ordinary everyday men.

Filled with their excitement, they return to Jesus to tell of all they had done and seen, the wonders and the let downs, the anger they would have encountered and the sheer joy they shared in.

We can imagine them all talking over each other, each insisting their story was more significant. They were coming and going, some were hungry, others needing to see their families and friends others coming with serious questions, others needing affirmation, others arguing with each other about what was really happening. The whole scene is a hustle and a bustle, energy flying around everywhere until Jesus says:

 Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.

Now, Jesus could be saying this because he thinks the whole scene is getting out of control, and it that is possible.
All this energy isn’t helping anyone.
So much energy on things that have happened things that are in the past, this isn’t allowing the present to be.

But there is a greater lesson in what Jesus says to the apostles.
There is a greater lesson in these words to us.

Jesus is affirming in their energy, yet he commands them to use it differently

Come away.

He doesn’t tell them to go away.
He tells them to come with him.
He is going to go with them.
They are to go away with him, not apart from him.
He isn’t sending them off to sort themselves out.
His being with them is integral to what they are going to do.

We need to go away and be with Jesus.
It is important that we have time to ourselves, to reflect upon what we have been doing looking at our ministry and thinking about how we can use our time and talents better.
But it is even more important that we take Jesus with us as we do this.
Invite him into those conversations.
Listen to what he says about what is going on.
Be present to yourself and be present to Jesus.

 To a deserted place, all by yourselves

With Jesus they are going to go somewhere where they won’t be interrupted.

This may be even more of a challenge to us than it was to the apostles.
We need to escape from 24 hour TV Facebook, Twitter, email, mobile phones.
All of these things are distractions from reflecting on what we do.
All these things are distractions from time spent listening to Jesus.
When we are hooked up to the computer phone or TV, we are in reality pushing Jesus out of our space.
We are distracting ourselves to the point where he is just a small thing that occupies a small space in our lives.

Come away to a deserted place, all by yourselves.

Remove the distractions; be present to Jesus in your life.

And rest a while.


The time spent away from everyone and everything, just spent with Jesus is a time a rest, a time of refreshment, a time to stop and be.

This is crucial time.
If we spend all our time racing around and doing and being busy, we can’t be who we need to be.
We can’t be who Jesus needs us to be.

It is important that we rest after doing.
We need to stop and contemplate what it is we have been doing.
If we just keep doing and doing, there is no way we can know if any of it has been of any good.
The times we stop are important.
We need to rest and refresh ourselves.
But also note, that Jesus says “for a while”

This is not a permanent rest. Jesus isn’t suggesting we full stop. It is a rest.

None of us are any use to each other, ourselves, or to Jesus if we aren’t rested and have given ourselves time to reflect on what we have been doing.

None of us are any use unless we stop our busyness, be still, and be present for Jesus.

While it is true that while we are working in our ministries, we are doing his work, it is also true that when we are resting from our work, we are to be resting in his presence.

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.

In our society today, busyness is seen as a badge of honour. To say I worked a 70 hour week is to be seen as something praiseworthy and admirable. But Jesus tells us something different. By all means, do your work, and do it well. Give yourself to it completely. But remember also to rest, rest completely, and within that peace and quiet away from doing, be present to Jesus. 

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