Thursday, December 5, 2013

THIS Is the Rest

Matthew 14:23
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,

At the beginning of this chapter we gain insight into an emotional season Christ was handling.
John, his cousin, ministry-opener, and fellow kingdom-laborer, had been beheaded. Whereas with Jesus' friend, Lazerus, on his death account we get the famous, clear, emotional description, "Jesus wept."
But in verse thirteen we can read between the lines as we see Jesus trying to find solitude. I feel certain that the man, Christ Jesus, needed a place to mourn privately.

Instead of privacy, he finds himself surrounded by other people also needing to heal. Some of these people were likely also followers of John, therefore mourning their own loss. Others of them may have been seeking a better political ally than their immoral king, Herod. Still others were likely there simply because of a sincere hunger to be closer to God. Jesus left his quiet place and ministered to them in word and deed, miraculously feeding thousands.

But it seems to me that Jesus still hadn't found his personal healing or completion of mourning, because immediately after he ministered to the people he again tried to find solitude. He didn't even want his disciples around; he sent them away in a boat. And it was that selfsame boat that a storm and waves began to beat upon.

Now we find Jesus in a situation you and I may find ourselves in; days when we're drained, yet still so busy. We desperately need solitude and healing. And we responsibly try to seek it out. We may set aside a few days on our calendars, take a vacation, or go for a workout of some kind. We can see all the activity that wiped us out, and from the same state we can see what's left to do. Jesus truly understands this.

Jesus stood on that mountain, the place he had chosen to refresh himself, and was able to see the place of ministry where he'd fed the thousands. It was a situation that included mental, spiritual, and physical outpouring while already in a state of mourning. And from that same mountain he was able to see the next and immediate need of his closest friends trying to survive a storm. He could have chosen to stay on the mountain in solitude. People would have understood; John had been martyred, and he had just been the superstar, miracle worker even in his grief. But he left his place of solitude and took care of yet another need.

The question we need answered is:
"How was he able to expend himself again so immediately?"
The answer is that he did more than "get away from it all."
He secluded himself, yes. But he regenerated himself through interaction with God.
His "rest" was prayer.

You may feel drained. You may have given to your family, your job, your community, your church, ALL you can. I advise that rather than complain and fester over our responsibility to minister, or our inability to go on a vacation, that we follow Christ's example and simply take in a few hours of solitude, alone in prayer. Certainly sources such as resorts, or cruises, or shopping therapy, or whatever your sugar-stick is, have their place. These can and should be enjoyed.

But time alone with God will get us back at HIS business more quickly. And doing God's business will be where we see and experience our greatest life moments.

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