Last weekend offered a long-awaited respite for me and four other girlfriends. Allison, Keri, Lara, Carrie and I spent the weekend at the beach. Between us, we left jobs, housework, husbands and a dozen children for some fun in the sun. We talked and played games into the night, and packed our days exploring the Gulf Coast. We watched the waves crash against the shore, sampled delicious seafood and shopped. And shopped and shopped!
As much fun as we packed into the trip, still we missed our families. Familiar sites made us long for our children, and we wondered how our husbands were faring back home without our help. The ever-present Mommy Guilt threatened to seep in and keep us from enjoying our vacation to the fullest.
Our conflicting emotions brought to mind Mark 6:30-32. This passage tells us the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all they had done and taught. Verses 31-32 say, "And He said to them, 'Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.' For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves" (NKJV).
The first thing that strikes me about this passage is that the apostles' demands left them with no time to eat. Don't we mothers relate to that? Our responsibilities at home or in the workplace can leave us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Jesus' gentle urging to step away from the busyness calls to me. It is comforting to realize that God cares for our bodies, minds and souls.
So what can we learn from the apostles in this passage? First, they took time away. They stepped away from their responsibilities to go to a quiet place. Sometimes we need a break, too. A little time of solitude can relieve stress and restore our peace. Second, the apostles went away by themselves, but they were not alone. They enjoyed fellowship with each other in the boat. We too can gain strength and encouragement from Christian friends. Going out for coffee, enrolling in a class or even taking a trip together renews our joy. And third, the apostles went away with Jesus. Even when we step away from normal life, we should not step away from God. In fact, our time away will be blessed when we draw closer to Him. Times spent studying God's Word and praying together will fortify us for the responsibilities that await our return.
Mark 6:30-32 is such a brief passage, but it teaches us so much about God's love for us. If we look at the broader context of that chapter, we can consider the events that preceded and followed the apostles' retreat. In the verses preceding, we learn that John the Baptist was beheaded. As the apostles grieved the gruesome death of their friend, some may have feared for their own lives. What a tumultuous, frightening time! Then in the verses following the apostles' excursion, we read about their teaching the multitudes and feeding the 5,000. What an amazing experience! And linking these two major events, we see Jesus calling the apostles away for quiet time with Him. How beautiful it is to realize that the apostles stepped away from a time of great stress and returned ready for a time of great service.
So when we step away from everyday life, let's savor the time to rest, reflect and release. Time out with the girls might be just what we need to prepare us for greater service. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). And how blessed we are to share this Christian walk arm in arm with godly friends.