Rest and Training for the Mission
What do rest and training have to do with the effectiveness of living ‘on mission’ for God?
Jesus loves rest. Quiet moments away were part of His routine. This week we read about how Jesus’ call to rest showed His concern for His disciples, who had been so preoccupied with the mission that they could not even find time to eat. Learning to rest is part of our mission training, too. When we choose to include rest, we can recuperate and be more effective for God and our families.
About This Journey
As Christ followers, we are the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus wherever we are. “Dedicated to God’s Mission” explores what it means to be a dedicated Christ-follower on a mission for God everywhere He takes us. Jesus had urgency and purpose in what He did and where He went. Together, we travel with Him and the disciples and learn from His attitude of love and service.
This Week's Readings
Come Away …and Rest
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.-Mark 6:30-32
Do you ever get weary from doing good things? I sure do. I wrote about my quest for rest one day in my journal:
This morning I sit in silence. The banishment of the spoken word will not last all day, but for these few hours, the moratorium is self-imposed and necessary. For too many months, my days have held too much activity and too little reflection. (Yes, I inserted the word “too” on purpose too many times in that last sentence.)
In the past few months, I have planned, prepared, polished, and provided public presentations. (Obviously, lack of rest does not affect my use of alliteration.) I am tired. I know that relaxing my mind is important, but I tend to relax to the point of paralysis. True rest should provide inspiration and fresh creativity, but lately I’ve had nothin’. The well is dry.
Jesus knew about the need for rest in order to replenish the soul. Pulling away for quiet moments was a part of his routine. In Mark 6:30–31 we read of the disciples’ return from a mission trip. No doubt they were tired from their journey, but the needs of the crowds that came to see Jesus required so much attention they did not even have time to eat. In the midst of this commotion Jesus turned his attention on his disciples. They had been serving and caring for others and now they needed to experience care. Jesus knew there was more service waiting for them, but the needs could wait a little while as they made a short boat ride across the river for a moment of rest.
I meet a lot of military wives who are beyond tired—they are weary. You may be among that number because of deployment, work, ministry, volunteering, family, chronic illness, or just the responsibilities of life. Will you notice the attention Jesus gives you today? Hear his voice say to you, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31b NIV).
What are the challenges you have in making time to rest? What can you do to make time for self-care?
Lord, today I will be still before you and wait patiently for you (Psalm 37:7). Amen.
He Sees the Struggle
And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”-Mark 6:48-50
This morning I had a phone chat with a friend who lives in Seattle. She and her husband have taken up kayaking on the beautiful waters that surround that area. Most of the time they use individual kayaks and go out on a lake, but recently they decided to tandem kayak on Puget Sound. She described the lake waters as smooth and easy to maneuver. By contrast, rowing in the Sound was hard. They fought against the current in their attempt to row in sync and make headway. She said she could focus on nothing else but the struggle.
Struggles are like that, aren’t they? My friend was struggling with water currents, but I could relate all she said to the struggles of life. It’s easy to only focus on the struggle and thwart any forward movement. We move through the day with difficulty as if we are pushing against an emotional or situational current.
Just before today’s Scripture passage, Jesus sent the disciples out into a boat to go ahead of him to the other side of the lake while he went off by himself to pray (Mark 6:45–52). Their encounter with the water was much like my friend described. They strained and struggled to make any headway in the challenging water.
Did you notice it was the Lord who sent them in the boat? In other words, they were in the Lord’s will. Don’t miss this: A struggle does not mean you are out of the Lord’s will. We want relief from struggle, don’t we? When it feels like there’s no headway in ministry or spiritual growth, it feels like the Lord is far away, doesn’t it?
Friends, the Lord sees us in our struggle. He saw the disciples and he came to them and spoke words of comfort and revelation, “Take heart; It is I. Do not be afraid.”
What does this story reveal about the participation of Jesus in our struggles?
Lord, help me not look so much for relief in the midst of struggle as to see you and your power working in my life. Amen.
A Lifelong Learner
And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?-Mark 8:17-18
So far in their travels, the disciples have seen Jesus calm a horrific storm, heal diseased and infirmed people, and command demons to leave the possessed. They have seen Jesus raise a dead girl to life, walk on water, and feed thousands with a meager amount of food. They’ve heard teaching about the kingdom and have seen Jesus live that teaching through his words and actions. Yet here are the very same people—the ones closest to Christ, the ones we would consider religious experts—still unable to grasp the identity of Jesus. Talk about lack of perception! These men watched as he touched blind eyes and made them see, and deaf ears and made them hear and still could not see the truth of who he was nor hear the truth of what he taught.
You may have heard the term “lifelong learning.” It’s something the military emphasizes as a way to open doors of opportunity. As a Christ follower you must commit yourself to lifelong learning about him. Sisters, with our best efforts we will never understand all there is to know about God and his work, but he will teach us more and more about him as we make ourselves open to his training.
Friend, there is no shame in not understanding the fullness of God. The only thing that must disappoint us is when we stop learning and think we’ve learned all there is to know. Or if, like the disciples, we forget what we’ve already learned. We must be guided by the principle that the more we know him, the more we love him. The more we love him, the more we worship him. The more we worship him, the easier it is to trust his plan. The more we trust his plan, the more we want to be part of that plan.
I’ve known many long-time followers of Christ who have read through the Bible multiple times. Each time they say they understand things they did not understand before. Have you experienced this in your life yet? How?
Lord, grant me a teachable spirit. Help me love you, know you, worship you, and live into your will. Amen.
Traveling and Training
And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”-Mark 8:27-29
I am one of those moms who takes full advantage of the captive audience that comes with a road trip. Yes, there is the perfunctory, “Are we there yet?” but that will not deter me from the mission at hand. What is the mission? On every trip, the inside of our vehicle becomes sacred space, a training ground, a place for impartation of faith, family, and fun into the lives of our kids.
Here in Mark, the road trip to Caesarea Philippi includes intense training with the twelve disciples. Teaching “on the way” was a strategy Jesus used with his disciples. He took full advantage of the travel time to train them in kingdom principles. Today’s Scripture illustrates that this was no occasion for chat or entertainment. The curriculum did not cover a minor issue. The lesson for this day was the most important question of all: Who is Jesus?
You may have noticed a recurring theme to this point in our journey with Jesus and his disciples: The disciples were a bit thick-headed. They did not get the meaning of Jesus’ mission or the nature of their discipleship.
The question Jesus asked is still one of the most discussed questions in the world. People still debate if he is just a prophet, just a teacher, just a religious man. Or is he more? Jesus brought the question home when he said, in essence, “Okay, I know what others say, but who do you say I am?” As spokesman for the group, Peter voices the uniqueness of Jesus as Messiah, God’s promised Savior. At last, the truth about Jesus is recognized and acknowledged.
The question is posed to you too, whether or not you have done extensive research on other religions and can explain what other people have said about Jesus. The most important answer any of us will ever have to give is our response to the Lord when he asks, “Who do you say I am?”
Who is Jesus to you? How has your view of Jesus changed as you have journeyed with him?
Lord, things have not changed much over the centuries. Many people still appreciate you as a teacher and prophet, but they do not see you as Lord. Help me to proclaim the truth of who you are by my words and actions today. Give me the opportunity to share the story of my journey with you. Amen.
A Mountaintop Perspective
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.-Mark 9:2-8
Perspective has to do with the way objects appear or are viewed. For instance, a realtor may use a wide-angle camera to make a room look larger. Perspective can also be defined as a mental view or outlook. Sometimes just placing myself in a different environment gives me an improved perspective on my circumstances.
Recently, I spent a week in the mountains of Colorado with some military wives who are in the midst of deployment. Mountain air, picturesque vistas, time to linger around the table, deep and meaningful discussion all contributed to a refreshed perspective of how to thrive in a less than optimum situation. We left that mountain with renewed courage and energy to love and serve others.
One day Peter, James, and John spent some time on a mountain with Jesus. On that mountain their perspective on Jesus was changed. If they had any doubt of the identity of the one they had left everything to follow, those doubts were finally put to rest. (Can we all say together: It’s about time!) How do you argue with clothes that become radiant before your eyes, a conversation with ancient prophets, and the voice of God using a cloud as a megaphone to endorse his Son? This scriptural account of special effects is called the Transfiguration. The disciples witnessed a physical change in Jesus as he interacted with Moses, Elijah, and God the Father. They witnessed the glory of God, and it changed their perspective.
These disciples saw God as few on earth have. God did not use smoke and mirrors or the latest digital rendering, but through his miraculous power he revealed a small glimpse of Jesus’ true glory. Whenever the Lord opens our eyes of faith to see a little more of him, we too come down the mountain not with only a new perspective on him, but as better people for him.
What is your perspective on Jesus now? Do you need to get off the trail and get alone with the Lord in order to gain a fresh view?
Lord, give me eyes of faith to see more of your glory today. Amen.
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