Thursday, July 16, 2015

An interrupted vacation

"Miracle of the Loves and Fishes" by James Tissot
"Miracle of the Loves and Fishes" by James Tissot

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Mark 6:30-44

"And He said 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. .. But the multitudes saw them departing and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him." Mark 6:31,33

Visualize the scene. Jesus' twelve disciples have just returned from a mission trip of their own. On it they healed the sick, cast out evil spirits, lived on the hospitality of strangers, and experienced not only popularity but also rejection (Mark 6:7-13). They're back and exhausted but the crowds don't let up, in fact, the needs are so urgent and persistent Jesus and his disciples don't even have time to eat (Mark 6:31).

" 'Come aside… and rest…' "
Jesus urges them. So they board a boat for some deserted beach, looking forward to a bit of R&R.

Imagine their surprise, then, when they get to land and another crowd is waiting for them. Some observant Israelites know Jesus' favourite "deserted" places and have led the crowd straight to this one. Instead of a break, Jesus & company face more work and eventually the need to feed 5,000+.

We're in the middle of holiday season ourselves. Maybe you're on vacation as you read this. You need the break too, have anticipated it, planned for it, set up your out-of-office message, cancelled the mail, done everything you can to guarantee your holiday is truly a break. And then something comes up and you have to put on your uniform and get back into the battle.

I admire the disciples here. There's not a whisper of complaint or self-pity. The only impatience I pick up is when they make the practical suggestion that Jesus send the crowd away to get food at the end of the "far spent" day. But when He requests, they ask around for food and come up with the meager five-loaf, two-fish ration.

Ah, but then comes the miracle when everyone gets to eat! And I wouldn't be surprised if the disciples aren't more energized by their participation in this amazing scene than if they'd been lying around all day.

Some lessons we can learn from this incident.

1. When our plans conflict with what God is allowing to come across our path, it's good to be as flexible as the disciples are here.

2. When we fit in with God's plans, we put ourselves in a place where surprises and even miracles are possible.

3. God has unique and wonderful ways of renewing us—and it's not always with a vacation - Isaiah 40:30; Ephesians 3:16-19; Colossians 1:9-11.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to put myself at Your disposal and to fit in with Your plans all the time, even when I'm on vacation. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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