The stack of pavers, the kneeling pad, the hammer and brick set chisel, the wheelbarrow with a shovel, and the saw, all suggest a work scene. And it even has a worker, with torn jeans and a sore on the knee…and the sweat stains on his chest indicate some work might have been done. But no one’s working. He’s sitting back with a cold drink. Why? He’s trying to copy Jesus. Really?
In Matthew 14:9-23, Jesus grieved when his cousin John was beheaded by Herod, the same cousin that had announced Jesus’ arrival into the material universe. Like many of us when faced with a loss, he wanted to get alone. However, a crowd saw and followed him to a solitary place, and he interrupted his search for solitude to feed 5000. But look at how he got back on his task, “Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone” (Matthew 14:22-23, NLT).
Let me suggest Jesus gives us three important principles that can keep us fresh and effective as we live his life and serve him.
1. Be flexible. Although he needed time alone in his grief, he adjusted his plans to meet the needs of people—not particularly the Type A response of “Get the job done. Period.” I struggle with this at times, and sometimes put tasks above people.
2. Sacrifice. Jesus was drained emotionally and spiritually, yet was willing to push his envelope when confronted with genuine needs of others. That impresses me.
3. Feed yourself. Note the urgency of the words “immediately” and “insisted.” We shouldn’t miss this. Nor his short term goal to be “by himself” and “alone.” Jesus needed this to maintain his freshness and efficiency in his main goal. I need solitude, and solitude in the mountains seems to work best.
So how did our worker follow Jesus? He had a task to do, a patio. Knowing he didn’t have the energy to work straight until 5 PM or so, he decided on a quick break. But he soon realized five wasn’t enough to restore his energy, so he extended it to fifteen. But that allowed the day’s work to get done. Or, he fed his need for rest to get the job done.
For us spiritually, let’s jump beyond the obvious need for physical rest. Even deeper than that is our need for spiritual breaks, for rest stops, IF we want to stay fresh and invigorated and effective in our growth and service. We can only live on spiritual adrenaline so long before we burn out. We need to schedule in needed feeding and resting. Yes, at times we need to go the extra mile, but like Jesus, we immediately get back on track.
Frankly, each individual follower will apply this differently, at different times and situations. As a minor example, twenty years ago, taking five was enough to get back going at full speed. Now it’s fifteen. But let’s feed ourselves, to best benefit both God, his mission, and ourselves. OK?
Kick Starting the Application
Have you realized you have a finite store of spiritual energy? What most taught you that? Do you calculate that intentionally in your life? How do you schedule in spiritual Take Five moments? What for you most restores your soul? How can you increase it in the next few weeks?