29 May At the End of Your Rope
I picked up reading this morning in Mark 6:30. Previously in verses 1-29 Jesus had been rejected in his hometown, John the Baptist – a very influential follower of Jesus (see Matthew 11:11) – had just died by getting his head cut off as an unjust act of revenge, and in verse 30 the apostles were now returning to Jesus from going out on the mission Jesus gave them to cast out demons and heal the sick. It was time for a break. Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” They were so busy they didn’t even have time to eat! So they went away “to a desolate place by themselves.” Ever been there? At the end of your rope, tired from running around, trying to keep up, haven’t had a day off in weeks, that all you can imagine doing is taking yourself to a place where no one can reach you? In the same way He reached out to the disciples, maybe you feel Jesus inviting you to go rest? Turning off your phone, possibly escaping to a different state/country just so you can change the pace? Oh boy, I am sure this is exactly what the disciples and Jesus were excited about getting in this moment! Some good R&R 🙂
Now imagine yourself getting off the plane in Hawaii. Sun beating on your face, you are graced with a lei of flowers. You made it! Only to see out of the corner of your eye a crowd of familiar faces. One…two…three….wait, where I am? What in the world? How did THEY get here? You suddenly realize you are surrounded by the very people you were trying to get a break from. Not because you disliked them or resented them, but because it was simply time for a break! For a sabbath rest, for some time alone. Oh the flood of emotions I can feel just writing this out! I can assure you that my initial reaction would not be grace, and probably not for the first few days! But this is exactly what happened to Jesus and the disciples. People heard where they were going and ran there, and actually “got there ahead of them.” But the very next verse is what blows my mind. “When He (Jesus) went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” But it doesn’t just end with Jesus’ compassion. He laid aside His plans for rest, and “began to teach them many things.” He stayed with them until it grew late. His disciples encouraged Jesus to send the crowd away to go buy themselves some food. But Jesus simply said, “You give them something to eat.” Jesus knew they had only five loaves of bread and two fish. How could He even ask this of them? (Don’t forget, there are FIVE THOUSAND men who need to be fed. I wouldn’t be happy if I was in Hawaii having to feed a hundred people, having to put aside my long awaited quiet beach time. For five THOUSAND? No way!) Yet Jesus had no problem with the idea that He could feed five thousand men with the little they had. And He did. He feeds every last one of them, with leftovers that filled 12 baskets!! WHAT?
So many things about this story grabbed my heart again this morning, so I had to sit down and share it with you. Jesus is such an amazing God. I can only dream about and pray to have a heart so sincere, so full of faith, as His. Don’t we all dream about this? Dream about not holding grudges, dream about forgiveness being our first instinct, about not being awkward when we find ourselves in the midst of people who make us feel awkward, but truly just love them for who they are and where they are at? JESUS. He is unlike any of us, yet we are made in His image, and are being transformed into His likeness (2 Corinth 3:19)! WOAH! Hallelujah! His heart is my aspiration. His heart is my goal. In the end, I would MUCH rather see five loaves and two fish turn into food for five thousand people with 12 baskets left over than to get some time soaking up the sun with a new tan that will never last on a body that will also die and return to dust, right? Obviously that takes time to sit down and process in my mind, but when I do, I know it’s good. I know going the extra mile for others is worth it. I know my time isn’t mine, but God’s, and what a blessing to give it back to Him instead of hold onto it. He is faithful to give us what we need! Food, teaching, attention, love, and even rest. We see Jesus tell the disciples to go while He dismisses the crowd. Then He himself gets away to the mountain to pray.
In conclusion, what do you feel you have only “five loaves and two fish” of in your life? Do you spend time worrying that you don’t have enough to advance in the direction you feel God has put on your heart? As I was greatly encouraged and reminded this morning, know this: You have exactly what you need to do the task ahead — FAITH.