Last week I got the rare (as in can’t remember the last time) opportunity to do something. Call it a sabbath, a day of rest, or a day of prayer…they’d all be accurate and it’s something I don’t get much of. The role of mom when your husband’s schedule necessitates a 36 hour period alone multiple times a week means my days of “rest” look more like this. Trying to carve out large amounts of quiet time for reflection, inspection and Word saturation is like trying to plan a date with my spouse…good intentions interrupted by life.
Fortunately for me, I have an Example to follow. My Lord is fully aware of the demands that life can place on us…the needs of others, sorrows of life, and exhaustion of the body. My day of study I got to glean from this:
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
(Matthew 14:13-14 ESV)
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
(Matthew 14:23 ESV)
Some things I came away with as I looked at the context of this chapter was first that verse 13 is a response to sorrow. Jesus wanted to get away as He just heard that John the Baptist was killed. Murdered. Beheaded. This man who had “prepared the way for the Lord” was gone. And Jesus grieved. When I’m sad, I want to be alone too. To cry, to pray, to rest under the shadow of God’s wings. Jesus was on His way to do this and life interrupted Him. The masses followed. They met Him as He got off the boat. Unlike my typical reaction to interruption however, Jesus recognized several things.
This interruption is in God’s plan. Yes, He could say it’s bad timing. He could harp about His needs. But instead, He submitted to the will of His Father in giving Him work to do instead of seeking solitude. And work He did; between verses 14-23 Jesus ministered to the needs of 5,000+ people all day long.
He had compassion. Instead of snapping in short-temperedness, He allowed His heart to be moved. His own suffering opened His eyes to the suffering of others. And just as He was seeking help from His Father, they were seeking help from Him.
His need was later filled. God didn’t deny His Son the need to get away, nor did Jesus forget His need. As soon as His work was done, He promptly re-sought quiet fellowship with His Father. And we see that His Father allowed it.
So often I am short-tempered and hostile when my young multitude swarms me when I’m reading God’s Word or praying. Or, I give up and go meet their needs and forget to go back to my Father and find the strength, grace and sustenance I need to continue to minister. My children are God’s gift to me…they need so much of me but it gives me a fabulous picture of my need for Him. How much more should I be pounding heaven’s gates saying “Dad, Dad, Daddy!!” just like my kids do to me? I’m surrounded by the example of how I should be with my Father in heaven, if I’d just have eyes to see it.