Have you ever just wanted some “downtime?” Some alone time. A time when you did not have to be “up,” you didn’t have to care, and by care, I mean caring for the needs of others. You just wanted some quiet, maybe flip channels on the TV, listen to an album that always speaks deeply to you, maybe read a book. I know I can put a checkmark beside each of these. When we’ve planned our “escape” and then life crushes our plans, it’s normal not to be cheerful – “Did you wake up grumpy this morning?” Husband: “No, I let her sleep.”
Jesus had sent His twelve apostles on a missionary trip, traveling two by two, and when they returned, He wanted to bless them with some downtime, some rest and relaxation. Jesus said to His apostles, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) However, that wasn’t going to happen. “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.” (Mark 6:32-34)
This account in the book of Mark is when Jesus fed the five thousand men and their families, but a fascinating event occurred before Jesus fed the crowd of people. Jesus taught the people for a long time, and, no doubt, the people had been mesmerized by Him, but now they were in a desolate place; no McD’s or Olive Gardens® were close by. Christ’s apostles told Jesus just to dismiss the people and send them away, not exactly a compassionate response. I think their response was because they were grumpy. They resented the people “stealing” their alone time with Jesus.
Why do I think this? Well, there are only a few times when the apostles told Jesus what to do, like when they were in the storm (Matthew 8:23-27). Each time they told Jesus what to do, they were not in the best of moods. Secondly, notice what Jesus did. He said, “You give them something to eat.” (v37)
The cusp of a great opportunity
Yikes! God had miraculously used them during their mission trip, but they weren’t up to feeding thousands of people. Isn’t that a bit sad? Jesus opened an opportunity, but they slammed that door right in Jesus’ face – “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” (v37)
My question is this: When we’re sulking because our plans have gone down the toilet, is it possible that we’re on the cusp of a great opportunity to be used by Jesus?
Our Savior’s voice
My most vulnerable times are when I feel sorry for myself. We all require downtime. It’s not a sin to get away for a while, but we do need to always keep our hearts open to our Savior’s voice. How wonderful would it have been if the Apostles Peter and John could have encouraged each other?
Peter: “Do you remember that time when Jesus said, ‘You give them something to eat.’ and the Holy Spirit used us to feed the five thousand men and their families?”
John: “Yes, I do. My heart nearly exploded by the love of God that flowed through me to those people that day.”
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