Reflections of Mark 6:30-34
The apostles return from their missionary trips, excited and exhausted. Their stories of healings and casting-outs explode from their mouths; they cannot contain their enthusiasm, they jump from one story to the next, so eager to let you know about all that took place.
You look at the apostles and see through their happiness to their need for quiet and to reconnect with you. You want to make sure they focus on the source of the power they’ve carried, not the activity of the power. How easy it is to get caught up in the results of God’s work through my life and forget the reason I have that power in the first place.
So you invite them to join you in a boat, to go away to a lonely place. A place of renewal and rest. The crowds that followed and required your attention kept increasing; not much opportunity for solitude and down time with their needs and diseases demanding attention. You couldn’t even eat in peace. The other side of the lake was the solution, a lonely place where you and your apostles could rest unmolested.
Or so you thought. It turns out the crowds were more wily than you expected. Figuring out where you were headed they beat you to the spot and were there waiting for you. If I had been one of the apostles, adrenaline no longer surging through my system, I would have resented the intrusion of the crowd. But not you. You saw them not as a claim upon your time or resources, but as sheep looking for a shepherd, compassion was aroused and you taught them many things.
I can relate to the apostles’ experience. I know the exuberance and animated joy that accompanies being used for the sake of the Kingdom. The adrenaline pumped agitation that carries me and fuels my enthusiastic recounting and remembering of the event or encounter. It is a great privilege and joy to be your hands and feet and in whatever setting we find ourselves, be it our home, our school, our workplace, or our pulpit, to witness your power move in the lives of others through me is a (super)natural high.
Ignatius in his spiritual exercises warns against getting caught up in the spiritual enthusiasm that accompanies such consolation of the Lord. It is often the enemy of our soul using our false self/our ego to carry us to places where the Lord is not leading. The way we discern what God, not our ego or even the enemy of our soul, is calling us to do is to follow Jesus into the boat.
In the boat with Jesus we are restored. In the boat we gain perspective. In the midst of our apostolic life Jesus invites us to come away with him, to take the time to review our activities and our reactions to such movements. We need to reconnect with the source, to remember He is the vine, we are the branches, without him we can do nothing. With him all things are possible.
We need to schedule such come away with Jesus times. They are essential if we want to continue to exhibit the power of God to heal and cast out the enemy in the world God has given us to love. These times might get interrupted; kids do wake up earlier than usual, disrupting your scheduled come away time; dogs do bark and need to be taken out for their morning walk; bosses do call unexpected meetings, the crowd did figure out where Jesus was headed and beat him there. But even an intentional short boat ride with Jesus will fill your heart with the ability to have compassion on the throngs that crowd your life and give you wisdom to teach them what you have to offer.
This morning my come away time was rudely interrupted. My dog pooped right in front of my chair, where I was reclining and enjoying just being with Jesus. The enjoyment ended pretty quickly, especially after I stood to chase her outside and literally stepped in her s**t, it covered my slipper and stank awfully as my foot smashed it into the carpet. The calm of my being with Jesus was replaced with cursing at the dog as I scrubbed the carpet. Such things happen. We carry on.
I was tempted to not return to my quiet time, but I did and this reflection is the result. May God have compassion on and through me and add his blessing to my words. Amen.