“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
God seems to be highlighting for me two important reminders in these verses. The first is one I’ve been dealing with lately—our need to get away for times of refreshing and renewal. Our “desolate place,” where we can simply rest and be with God. In the midst of ministry and the busyness of life in general it’s easy to get run-down and stretched too far. But even the Son of God made time to rest. We see several places when He separated Himself, going away to pray. He encouraged His disciples to do the same. We need to be intentional about quieting ourselves and making time to simply enjoy the presence of our God as we learn to listen to His voice.
But then we see the second reminder. One I tend to find more challenging than the first. The group arrives to find a great crowd of people waiting for them. We see our challenge in the response of our Lord. He has compassion on them. Particularly in times of stress or weariness, when we are seeking to get away, we can respond to interruptions with frustration, allowing our internal stress to express itself toward those who seem to be keeping us from that rest we hoped for. But we need to remain aware of how we respond to people, especially when they seek us out. As followers of Christ, we must continually maintain a mindset of humility and love. Love that is patient and kind and not self-seeking or irritable.
It’s easier to do this when we are at our best, feeling rested and filled with strength and joy. But when we feel empty and worn, we tend to focus in on ourselves. I’ve found myself in the “empty and worn” category over the past few days. Desperately wanting to just get away to a desolate place for refreshing and experience the sweetness of my Lord’s presence. This passage both validates my desire to create time to rest and calls me to do so in a way that honors my God of Compassion. To fail in this will either add the weight of guilt or cause me to harden my heart.
So Lord, please strengthen my heart today. Pour out grace and encouragement as we seek to serve and please You in the midst of the busyness of life. You love us perfectly. Give us wisdom and discernment, helping us to make time to “come away… to a desolate place and rest” and not neglect our relationship with You or stretch ourselves too far. In those times of weariness, gently remind us to respond in compassion and kindness when we face another of life’s curves. Help us to trust You that much, to believe that You will strengthen us and fill us with Your grace. And as we are intentional about making time to rest, help us to remember that You have promised to provide for us in those “Sabbath” moments. You will be faithful to fill any gaps we fear we are leaving behind. Jesus, we want Your peace to rule in our hearts and to be filled with joy in Your presence. Please continue to teach us what it is to rest in You.