Saturday, July 24, 2010

Resting with Jesus When There’s Work to Be Done

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

~Mark 6:31 (NIV).

What a setting it is that the disciples find themselves in with Jesus. Jesus himself sees their need of rest, due mainly to the phenomenal following this band of men with the incarnate God-man had attracted. And yet, Jesus recognises the need of a “solitary place” even when the extraneous need of the people beyond is so deep.

He recognises that you can’t run if you can’t stand.

And here comes the test. There is a large crowd of people in need as they land their boat at the sanctuary place. Jesus, as we’ve come now to expect, “had compassion on them” (Mark 6:34).

What gives? There is promised rest, yet the disciples must now lift a notch and present in overdrive—to assist in the feeding five-thousand miracle that’s about to take place.

And, still, there is no complaint about the estranged prospect of rest; bewilderment perhaps, but no complaint.

Resting with Jesus – It’s a Different Rest

Upping the ante is not always a hellish proposition to those already exhausted—only unceasing, burnout-producing activity is. Provided there is some way to get the respite needed, the one seen on the horizon, going the extra mile right now might actually provide added peace and contentment at that resting place.

It’s not hard to reach out to people in compassion, even when we’re exhausted. Others’ unmet needs are, many times, more urgent than even ours.

In some ways the disciples were already resting. The mere fact that Jesus had recognised their need of rest and replenishment—and had ordered they go to the solitary place—was temporarily enough for these followers of his, of his empathy and discerning leadership.

Rest is an Often Strange Concept

What is rest for one person is not rest for another. We’re so different from each other in these ways. Some find rest in their passions. Some simply must get away. Others again do their resting by way of powernaps, meditation or a cup of tea with a friend.

Whatever revives us is not the important thing; it is being in the ‘revived’ and alert state, or finding our way there, which is most important. We do our work from rest, not the other way around.

Added to this is the empathy for rest that Jesus has for his disciples.

We give ourselves this empathy via the Holy Spirit that calls us to rest. If we’re listening to the Spirit well enough we’re getting important insights in the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of rest right now. And we obey this voice.

And even if the Spirit calls us to higher ground, interceding and intervening, we go on, but with a promise—the resting ‘place’ is not far off.

There Jesus will feed and water our souls.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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