The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves 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 deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. (NRSV)
"Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." Jesus' words to the apostles are a reminder that in the midst of doing good and important work, we can forget to take care of ourselves. We can forget that we need to stop and eat and rest and recharge so that we have the strength to keep doing that good work.
But how do we find time for ourselves to rest when the work is urgent or high-stakes? Despite the fact that the apostles needed time to rest, the need for the teachings of Jesus to carry on remained. The crowd that followed them was hungry to learn more. How fortunate for the apostles and for the crowd that Jesus was able to intervene to make sure the apostles got the rest they needed and the crowd got the teachings they needed.
There have been and will continue to be times when I'm asked for more than I can give. In those moments it won't do me or the other person any good if I try to give something I know I can't. There's a good chance I'll get burned out or bitter, and there's a good chance it won't be what the other person actually needs. This passage is such a helpful reminder that, in those moments, Jesus is there to step in and help us both.
Loving God, help me be honest with myself and with others when I need to rest a while. Help me to see knowing my limits as a sign of strength and not a sign of weakness. Keep me humble by reminding me that I am not the only person available to do your work in the world. Amen.
Reflection and prayer written by
Nicole Spirgen, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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