Marketplace Devotion 2016/06/12

A Healthy Wilderness

Mark 6:30-32

The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves.

(Mark 6:30-32, the Message)

What comes to your mind when someone mentions wilderness? The same term in Greek is translated as a remote place in this week’s scripture. In other editions, it appears as desolate, uninhabited, or solitary – somewhere devoid of friends and familiar sources of support. Picture yourself alone in the middle of nowhere with a stalled vehicle and no cellular connection.

How can such wilderness be called healthy? Possibly when you have been there before and know your way. Maybe if you’re trained in survival skills and actually enjoy the challenge. But it’s unlikely too many people would want to go there on purpose.

Unless you’re with Jesus. Mark tells us that Jesus deliberately went to “a desolate place” on at least two occasions. He went there to be alone and to pray (Mark 1:35). He took his team with him on retreat (Mark 6:31 ESV) following a time of intense ministry activity (Mark 6:12-13). Intentionally entering this kind of wilderness, as Jesus did, can be a positive, healthy experience. Because there you have no other help but God.

The lesson for us is this: take up the Lord’s invitation and go with him! Tune in to God, just as Jesus himself did. Enjoy the Father’s love, healing and affirmation. Learn to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit. Be refreshed in body, soul and spirit. This may sound all too familiar. Sadly, not everyone practices it. Others ignore their own human needs, mistaking busyness for faithfulness and never quieting down to receive the Father’s embrace. But listen to Jesus: “Let’s take a break.

How might this play out in our contemporary suburban environment? Find a quiet spot away from your usual distractions. Block off a couple of hours if a whole day is impossible. Switch off your cell phone (at least set it on quiet mode). Go for a walk in the countryside. Sing a song to Jesus. Read a familiar psalm. And invite the Holy Spirit, your Counselor, to speak.

Are you physically tired? Emotionally drained? Mentally exhausted? Overwhelmed by the incessant needs of family, work and ministry? Disoriented in your search for the next step in your life? Unable to see the smile on the Lord’s face or hear his word of approval? Get in the boat with Jesus.

Practice:

  1. Continue to create space for God in your daily schedule. Set apart 2-3 minutes in the morning, afternoon and evening. Sit quietly and acknowledge Jesus as your God (Psalm 46:10). Let him smile on you and give you peace.
  2. Welcome the Holy Spirit as your Partner @ Work. Ask for wisdom and insight to face today’s challenges.

Prayer:

“Lord Jesus, thank you for your invitation. I’d love to join you in the boat. Please give me the resolve to actually do it. By the power of your blood, give me fresh eyes and open ears. Amen.”