Life can suck us dry. Home life. Work life. Economic life. Family life. Yeah, the list can go on. We get exhausted and have little to give. We need a break, some rest, like the lion above. A time to refill spiritually, emotionally, physically, relationally. But we can't seem to find, or create, a break in the fast pace. Even so, sometimes we need to suck it up. Not always, but sometimes.
Here's why. Jesus well knew the need to renew. Remember, he created us and the concept of rest, the Sabbath. Chapter 13 of Matthew tells of frustrating ministry, when his hometown resisted him. Chapter 14 begins with Herod beheading Jesus' cousin John, also known as the Baptist. Filled with tiredness and grief, he headed to the mountains for time apart, in verse 13. To pray. To restore.
So he took a boat to the far side of the Sea of Galilee. People saw him leave, and followed on foot, at least ten miles. Their eagerness caused them to arrive first. Jesus spotted them, and I would have turned the boat around. But Jesus landed, and in compassion healed the sick. Then came dinnertime, with no In-N-Out around, and once more Jesus responded to people in need, and fed around 20,000 with the small lunch of a young boy.
Or, Jesus sucked it up. Worn out and sorrowing, he saw beyond his own need and sacrificed his desire for rest to meet those of others. But the story has more to it. As soon as dinner ended, he sent his disciples back across the lake in their boat, dismissed the crowd, and went up the mountain. Alone. To pray. To reconnect with his father. To refresh.
We followers of Jesus can learn two important lessons from him.
1. Let compassion for the needy determine our agenda. A willingness to sacrifice our needs should be in the calculus of our plans. Sure, many we help will be irresponsible, there just for the freebies. Just like many of those who came for the healings and free food. But we need to do what we can for those we can. Their motives and responses are their issues, and we never know what our acts of kindness can result in.
2. Don't totally deplete ourselves. Remember, Jesus delayed his rest, he didn't eliminate it. As finite beings, we need to feed ourselves to continue to feed others.
Yes, this all requires some grace and flexibility and wisdom. Saying no can be an act of love. But perhaps we should default on the side of grace a bit more.
Yes, life can suck us dry. And before replenishing ourselves, we sometimes need to sacrifice to touch others. Like Jesus, when the time is right, suck it up.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you lean toward having a set agenda that rarely changes, or one that flexes? What in you contributes to that? How does loving Jesus impact your love of others? How does your love of others impact your agenda? What one thing can you do this week to craft a willingness to suck it up for others?
PS The basics of this post came from my pastor, Steve Redden, at http://www.gotocrosspoint.com/