|Photo Image Courtesy of Angela Waye via 123rf.com|
There are always many layers to the stories we tell. So much can seemingly become buried in the obvious, big picture pieces, that important messages escape us. Today's lesson from Mark 6 is just one such story.
For years in my Christian walk, I have been exhorted to find "quiet time with Jesus".
"You can't hear his still small voice when you're not spending quiet time with Him."
I would wholeheartedly agree. In fact, so much so that I deliberately guard my time every early October to go on a retreat, hours away from home. During that retreat, I even pull apart from my girlfriends, so I can bask in the love of my LORD. And the remainder of my year, I make every effort to have a daily, closely guarded quiet time away from my family to be alone with God in Scripture and prayer. These are cherished, powerful moments for me.
In these moments, I have learned a still greater lesson...
When I am harried, I am not humble. When I am task-oriented, I have a harder time being thankful. When I am racing through my days, I am rarely recalling all He has done for me.
And biblical affirmation of this fact can get buried when we read the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. If we pull apart Chapter 6 of Mark's gospel, verses 30-44 give us a better picture of what this ornery ingratitude looks like. The disciples had just returned from the incredible mission of preaching and healing that Jesus had sent them on. You can imagine, though excited with reports of what happened, they certainly must have been tired, having enough of crowds. In fact, verses 30-31 elude to it. Jesus suggests that the remedy for these worn down workers is to come away with him for quiet and rest.
Still, the crowds anticipate where Jesus is headed with His crew, and they get there first. While Jesus has compassion, the overwhelmed disciples get cranky.
"Send them away," they insist under the guise of actually caring about the needy thousands that are stalking them.Much to their chagrin, Jesus instructs the disciples to assume the impossible task of feeding all these people. They balk and protest at what their Teacher has told them to do, feeling much entitled to their outrage.
But watch what Jesus does in verse 41 -- He took the little that was given to them and gave thanks. It is the unhurried Redeemer who shows us how to calm down and show gratitude. In return, God can do much with our minimum.
How often we are like the disciples in this story! We run around like a chicken with its head cut off and act with indignation when we don't get our way. We make ourselves the little gods of our own lives, and then become imploding ingrates because we have allowed ourselves to overbook and overwork.
My friend, let's not go into these holy days ahead so busy that our gratitude is drowned out. Let's lift our noses up from the grindstone and turn a thankful face towards the Giver of every good gift. Be deliberate in guarding some of that time apart as the holidays begin to encroach upon our calendars. Say "no" to more and we will suddenly feel the full measure of our blessings. Praising God in appreciation becomes a natural byproduct of going from harried to humbled.
PRAY: Father, forgive me for my rushed, ungrateful spirit. Show me what is most important, Lord, and help me to say "no" to the unnecessary things I cram onto my calendar. Let me never become so busy and self-focused that I fail to thank You for the countless ways you bless me.
~ Barb Dittrich