Mark 6:31 31He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while. For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat”.
The context of these words from Mark 6 describe the return of Jesus’ disciples after their first “revival”. Jesus had sent them out “two by two with the authority to teach and to exorcise demons”. They now return. “What would they report?” Interestingly St. Mark doesn’t give us their report. Rather he gives us something more important about the nature of discipleship. Mark tells us that not all had gone well with the disciples. They had had victories, but clearly they had experienced defeat. We know this from Jesus’ reaction. Upon their return Jesus notes their “fatigue”. “Discipling” hadn’t been as easy as they had imagined it would be. With the authority of God on their side, one would think that they would have returned with nothing but stories of glory and conquest over evil. Not so. They were tired. And Jesus knew it. And so the only “report” we receive about their activities is that Jesus invited them “to go away and rest a while.”
This “faith fatigue” moment importantly describes “the rhythm of the Christian life.” There will be moments of triumph when people hear the Word of God and keep it, and there will be happenings when people will think you crazy, as they thought Jesus crazy, and send you away.
It is not possible to be all that Christ asks us to be without moments of utter failure that demand retreat and renewal. It is not possible to be “on” 24/7. Whether that is feeding the hungry or your family; healing the ill or comforting a restless child; clothing the naked or doing the wash; comforting the dying, or getting a good night’s sleep – these are ALL acts of discipleship, and they all demand that we regularly step back into times of rest and renewal…WITH JESUS’ BLESSING! Faith and good works provide no shield against fatigue. Jesus doesn’t judge that. He notices how tired we are because of it, and Jesus calls us to rest.
I am going to rest this month. When I return, I will be ready to teach and preach and heal again…in Jesus’ name!