“As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.” (Matthew 14:22-23)
A few weeks ago I was working in my office. The pace and intensity of my work was much greater than usual. I was preparing for an upcoming sermon that didn’t seem to be coming together like I had hoped. I had several articles that needed to be written as deadlines quickly approached. Neither of these efforts was producing very fruitful results. And then it hit me. Quite hard actually. I was exhausted physically. I was exhausted mentally and emotionally. I even felt a bit exhausted spiritually. The past few months of racing around, trying to keep up with everything and everyone and make sure that every ball was still in the air and in its place, finally caught up with me. I had “hit the wall.”
I’ve grown a lot during the last ten years while serving in full-time ministry. One of the ways that I know I’ve grown is this – when the time comes, when I “hit the wall” as I like to say – I know that I need to stop. I need to get away from the busyness of ministry and life for a few days and simply rest. I need to do something different for a bit in order for the wall to move out of the way. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love what I do and ways that I feel called to serve. I enjoy tending to everything and everyone that life in ministry brings, but sometimes it’s still hard for me to see the wall approaching before I hit it.
I think Jesus “hit the wall” from time to time too. The text above from Matthew’s gospel has been at the forefront of my thoughts and prayer over the past few days. It comes on the heels of what was probably a busy few days for Jesus and the disciples – they just served a banquet for over 5,000 people after all. That had to be just a little bit exhausting, even for Jesus. And my guess is that disciples were at least a little tired after serving that many people.
I’ve always wondered about the times when Jesus went away to be by himself. Was prayer all that he did? I wonder if Jesus maybe rested too. Maybe he read a new book or played a little golf or turned off his cell phone and computer for a few days or even simply took a nap. I don’t know, but it is an interesting question isn’t it?
I do believe is that we all need to do things like that from time to time in order to truly rest. I know that my time away has been good. I’ve rested. I’ve played a little. I’ve enjoyed my time away. And you know what; I think I’m ready. I’m ready to venture out into whatever is on the horizon tomorrow in ministry and life.