Ministry with Jesus is REST!
The plan that Jesus laid out for the disciples was rest.
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.– Mark 6:31 (ESV)
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
– Mark 6:34 (ESV)
At first, I thought that this was about Jesus altering His original plans because of His immense compassion for His people. His compassion was certainly a factor, and we will touch on that in the next post, but I believe the Lord is actually saying here “Serving these people WAS the plan of rest. I didn’t change the plans. Ministry with Me IS rest.”
Jesus is God. I have to believe He knew that when they crossed that lake and got to their destination, the people would be waiting. Yet, He told the disciples “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”
So the “by yourselves” part, that was the journey on the boat. But, the “rest” part, that was in the desolate place. And, the people, the starving people, they were in the desolate place. So, the rest Jesus had alluded to, must have included the serving.
Don’t misinterpret my meaning. Ministry with Jesus is not a SLEEPING job. Jesus actually reprimands some of these same disciples for falling asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:40, 45).
No. Ministry with Jesus is not a sleeping job.
However, it is not a striving job. Striving leads to burnout. Burnout is good for no one. The Greek used here for rest is anapauō. It can also be translated as “take ease” or “refresh”. When we serve with Jesus in the desolate places we find the refreshing we need to avoid burnout. We must take ease, though, and let Him do the heavy lifting. He does the work, and as we rest in Him, it is easy.
The ability to rest all comes down to His voice. To enter His rest we must operate from His voice.
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.” –Hebrews 4:6-7 (NLT)
The disciples didn’t have to figure out how to feed the 5000, though they tried. They didn’t have to figure out where to go to do it. They followed the voice of Jesus, and the people were fed in a way that no human being could have planned.
Without His voice we can make ourselves crazy, plum crazy, over the details of ministry. With His voice, the yoke is easy and the burden is light.
The first step is hearing His voice. But the KEY is not hardening your hearts. BELIEVING His voice. Burying it within the depths of your mind and your soul. Letting it renew every cell of your being with His truth.
We don’t need just the eyes to see and the ears to hear, but the heart that understands. We need the heart that reaches out, grabs every word, and owns it.
Just today, actually 20 minutes ago, the Lord cemented this to me. Six weeks from now I am heading to Australia on a ministry trip. The Lord told me to go, so I’m going. The details have been a bit hazy, and I’m a little bit compulsive about details. However, every time I pray, I hear Him say “I got this!” He has confirmed it over and over that I am supposed to go. He sings “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” to me when I get anxious about it. (Really. Like all the time. It’s not a song that leaves your mind quickly after it enters, either. Maybe that’s why He picked it.)
I have heard Him say He has the plans and the provision all worked out, and yet I have struggled with finding peace about it. I keep feeling like I have to DO something to get the provision in place. I mean it’s SIX WEEKS AWAY!!
Last night, as I was sharing a table with the team I am going with, I felt the Lord say “The only thing you need to do is plan to do this, what you are doing now, share a table with the people that I have pointed out to you along the way.” (One of them I, literally, met on the mountaintop in Canada– it doesn’t get clearer than that!)
Well, that gave me some peace about the itinerary. But then, I wondered how I was going to put food on those tables. You know what? He made it very clear that He’s the one that puts food on the table. Food for 5000, even. Today in the mailbox came an unexpected check for $150 made out to “The Growing Table of God.” And, Bam! There is food on some of those tables.
I heard His voice. I have been hearing it on this issue for months. But, I had not entered into His rest about it. I know, now, as I write this that it’s because my heart was not softened to His words.
So right now, with each of you I pray:
Father, we repent for any and every amount of hardening we have done in our hearts in response to Your voice. Tenderize our hearts to Your words. Give us hearts of clay, Lord, and get in their good with Your mighty hands. Warm up the clay, work it over, and mix Your words right into the midst. Smooth out the lumps and make our hearts one with Your words for us, so that we can no longer separate Your words out. I don’t ever want to remove Your words from my heart and I don’t want to lose a single one. So, thank You, Father, that You are thorough and I can trust that it is done to perfection! In Jesus’ precious name I pray.
Today, ask the Lord to show you the areas in your life and ministry where you are not entering into His rest, but could be. Ask Him to sweetly escort you into that rest today. And then get busy doing what He says!
To go on to part 4 in this series, click here.