The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. ~Mark 6:30-34 (NABRE)
At the beginning of this scripture Jesus is trying to teach the apostles a lesson that many of us today need to learn, too. You must make time for yourself to be quiet, rest and recharge. When you are constantly interacting with people, processing lots of information and trying to act on what needs to be done, it really takes a toll on your body. Both physically and mentally. Jesus knew this very well. How often do we read about him going off by himself to pray? Quiet time to re-center, re-group and re-charge is what everybody needs. Even God rested on the seventh day!
How often do you see family, friends or coworkers who are so frazzled and at their wits end because they have so much to do and not enough time to do it in? Between work and home we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. A few years ago I actually suffered from stress hives for almost five months because I wasn’t taking care of myself. Stress is horrible, too. It can cause all sorts of issues including weight gain, weight loss, hair loss, hives, excema, heart attacks, etc. You have to learn to say no and put yourself first. If you break down then you can’t help others.
The only “problem” is that when Jesus disembarked from the boat he saw the vast crowds and had to help them. Their need for what he had to offer was greater than his need for quiet time. Parents know this all too well. How many times do you feel like just plopping on the couch and zoning out in front of the TV, but then little Johnny comes up and needs help with something or just wants you to spend time with them doing some other activity? Do you tell them no, that you need to have Me time? Of course, not. You probably sigh and then get up to go spend time with your child.
That doesn’t mean that you never again take time for yourself. You have to know your limits and know when to say ‘no’. It doesn’t specifically say that Jesus weighed his exaustion level against the need of the crowd and decided that he had a little more to give. If you read further in this chapter of Mark you read about the feeding of the five thousand and then you arrive at Mark 6:46, “And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray.” Jesus helped all of those people and then still found some time to recharge his batteries.
When I start to feel guilty that I’m doing something for myself such as spending time crocheting instead of cleaning the house, I just remind myself of this chapter in Mark. Don’t feel guilty for taking some needed downtime. Don’t feel guilty that you sat and read a good book for an hour instead of dusted the house. Now, if all you’re doing is Me things, you definitely need to re-prioritize. I’m hoping that the pandemic helped a lot of people learn that a lot of what kept them busy was nonsense stuff. I hope they learned how to just sit with themselves in quiet or realize that what they had been doing was just a bunch of noise. Take a lesson from Jesus; do good works and help out your fellow man, but don’t forget to be quiet and talk with God.