- Renée Coventry
Rest Interrupted, Pt. 25
In Mark, chapter 6, Jesus had sent out His disciples in pairs to minister to surrounding communities. When they return to report all that they had done and taught, He says to them, "'Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.' For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat" (Mark 6:31). There was just one slight issue – the masses followed them.
Remember that holy rest includes the separating out of time and space for God and people. Here are thousands of people gathering to be ministered to in their deserted place, their vacation home, so to speak, desperate for a touch from Jesus. So, moved with compassion for them, Jesus begins to teach and touch them, and the disciples are anxious for their vacation rest to start. Their response is, "It is already late…Send them away, so they can go…and buy themselves something to eat" (Mark 6:35-36). The disciples' response emphasizes what the people could be doing for themselves and their own need for rest after exhausting weeks of ministry. But Jesus is holy, and His responses are always righteous. He tells His disciples, "You give them something to eat" (vs. 37).
Remember, earlier in this passage, the disciples themselves hadn't had time to nourish their bodies and spirits, and Jesus is telling them to give out what in the natural they don't have to give. When they bring this up to Jesus, He tells them, "Go look." The disciples find five loaves and two fishes. Sometimes it's not that we don't have anything to give, but that we don't want to discover what we have to offer because we are weary. When we take the time to do so, we will find that we do have something to give, small and insignificant to the task as it may seem. They thought the little they had to offer to the people was nothing compared to the task Christ had asked them to take on. Five loaves and two fish divided by their group may give everyone a little something but wouldn't make a dent in feeding five thousand. I'm sure some were thinking at this point, "Why bother?"
In response, Jesus instructs them to have the people sit down. In essence, He asks His disciples to divide the people into groups of hundreds and fifties. There's division again. In the meantime, Christ is blessing the little they have to offer and breaking it. As Jesus keeps dividing their little, breaking the bread and dividing the fish, listen to the result, "Everyone ate and was filled" (vs. 42). It wasn't just the masses that ate, but the disciples, as well. When Jesus broke it, not only did everyone eat but they were filled. The hunger of these men was satisfied when they were obedient to divide and share what little they had amid their weariness. Not only that, when they were obedient, Christ Himself ushered them into a boat and sent the crowds away. In separating space and time for what God asked them to do on behalf of the masses, Christ separated more room for them, ensuring they received the rest they desperately needed.
When you are tired, and God asks something of you, don't assume there is nothing left. Look. Discover what is left, give it to God, and then distribute what He breaks and divides. You'll find that you will be refreshed in doing so, and He will provide the rest you need.
Father, I want to be available whenever You call on me. When I am weary and worn down, please help me discover what I have to offer and when I find it, please break it so that it can be multiplied for Your Kingdom. Thank You that You are aware of my every circumstance and that You bring rest and refreshment to me as I walk in obedience to You. In Jesus' Name, amen.