A Time to Rest
Jesus said to the disciples, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." (Mark 6:31)
Mark is the oldest of the four gospels, and the shortest, and the quickest, by which I mean the action keeps moving from one adventure to the next. One of Mark's favorite words seems to be "immediately." Everything is happening immediately after something else. Matthew, Luke, and especially John take time to fill out the story with commentary and interpretation. Mark acts as though there is not time for all that.
Many people today live their lives in a similar way. Go, go, go! Got to be "doing" something. Anything. Our value is based on our productivity and we judge others by their productivity. Life is a non-stop, merry-go-round and if you get off you might miss something.
Maybe it is just because I am getting ready to go on vacation, but this short little passage from Mark appeals to me today. It is only the sixth chapter of Mark's gospel and Jesus has been on the go from the first verse. Verse 9 anyway. Remember, there is no birth story in Mark. No time for that. We start with the adult Jesus and John the Baptist. And since his baptism, Jesus has called disciples and healed the sick and climbed a mountain to teach and crossed the sea and come back and healed some more. He has been busy, busy, busy!
Now it's time to take a break. It's not the first time. Jesus has already been known in Mark's telling to sneak off on his own in the early morning hours to pray and rest. Each time, either the disciples or the crowds go and search him out and put him back to work teaching and healing and moving about.
But it is nice to know even Jesus needed a break sometimes, even in Mark. A professor in seminary once told our class how one day when he was a pastor he showed up at the home of a elderly member and she took one look at him, saw how worn down he was, and said to him, "Pastor, Jesus died for these people once and it won't do them one bit of good if you work yourself to death, too."
All I'm trying to say is give yourself a break - and others, too. It's okay to sit and do nothing. It's okay to take a leisurely walk in the park. It's okay to go for a drive with no destination in mind, if you can afford the gas, just to see how the corn is growing. Find a deserted place, even if it is only your back yard, and rest. Maybe God will reach out to you in that moment but don't fret if that doesn't happen. Just rest and be still. Like Jesus, who is about to be overwhelmed by a great crowd again, life will be busy again soon enough.