Interruptions can be opportunities to demonstrate compassion.
Today’s Scripture reading comes from Mark 6:31, quoting from the NASB:
“And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)”
What would you consider a reasonable work/rest rhythm? In Mark 6:7-13, 30-32, and 33-46, Jesus models the dynamics of work and rest. Having sent His disciples on mission to preach repentance, cast out demons, and anoint and heal the sick, He told them to “come away” and rest.
Rest has obvious benefits, but sometimes we must be told to rest. The disciples “gathered together with Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught.” Stopping to appreciate our accomplishments is a good thing; we get to check an item off our “to do” list and to enjoy the feeling of positive reinforcement. However, before Jesus and the disciples would embark upon the next task, Jesus wanted them to come aside to a secluded place for rest. Coming in many forms, rest helps to us recover and to be ready for the mission that will surely follow.
What does rest look like for you? For some, it is “sleeping in” with total disregard for time, watching a Sunday afternoon game with feet elevated—drifting in and out of consciousness, working in the garden, or sitting on the porch thinking about nothing. Another form of rest is quiet time with the Lord, resting in the comfort of His Word and releasing all concerns to His care. Rest gives us a better response to trials, stresses and difficulties.
Accomplishments are important, but so are rest and balance that ready us for the next thing. Jesus’ admonition to rest is important because rest helps sustain us for the long haul. We never know what is around the corner, and, as Mark 6:33-34 indicates, another opportunity for work awaited them at the secluded place. Where the disciples thought they would have a time of rest alone with Jesus, it did not quite turn out that way. The presence of the crowd presents an important question: How do you respond to interruptions?
Jesus and the disciples expected to arrive at a secluded place for rest. However, “when Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd”. We can learn much from Jesus’ response to this interruption. “He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.”
Interruptions can be opportunities to demonstrate compassion. Jesus’ compassion included serving the crowd a meal. How we respond when our plans get changed can add to or take away from our resilience. The disciples’ resilience was not minimized by the interruption. Jesus’ response ensured their staying power would be maximized.
The interruption did not remove Jesus’ need for rest. Like an accommodating host, Jesus took responsibility for the crowd and sent the disciples on their way to rest. After the crowd was gone, Jesus retreated alone to the mountain to pray, remaining true to His own call for rest. How does Jesus response to this interruption encourage you?
Points to Ponder
Over the next week, here are 5 questions to ponder during your personal time of reflection or with a small group or mentor.
Consider your own work/rest rhythm and answer YES or NO to these questions:
- Am I allowing margin between activities?
- Am I practicing balance in apportioning my time?
- Do my margin and balance conform to my family’s or my personal priorities?
- If unable to “come away,” do I need to rethink in whom or what I am I placing my trust?
- Do I believe success or failure is on my shoulders alone?