Continuing to grow in Jesus, especially after knowing Him years upon years, is a beautiful and beggarly feat. It's a longward journey, often marked by highs and lows, by which we follow Jesus into the depths upon depths of an ongoing intimate relationship, conforming more into His likeness, and walking out a life of Spirit-driven oneness as we love Him obediently in the mountains, valleys, and plains of this amazing thing called life. Surely the Lord beckons us onward day-by-day if we are willing to have ears inclined to hear Him, eyes open to see Him, and a tenderness of heart to steadily worship Him as He bids us to, "Follow Me."
That's the life I see Jesus trying to teach His disciples how to walk in the pages of Mark, chapter 6. Jesus is training them up to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving them access to the Father and Son's heartbeat for His people and, often, in the midst of His disciples lack of faith, lack of rest, and lack of understanding. After completing a mission Jesus had just prior sent His disciples on, Mark 6:30-44 tells us:
"The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 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. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 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. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men."
In this passage I see two sets of beautiful and beggarly people; the disciples are beautifully beggarly for rest and refreshment while the masses of people are beautifully beggarly for that, too, but they are also famished for spiritual leadership. And Jesus has an abundance of compassion on them. Furthermore, to meet their physical and spiritual needs, He instructs His disciples to do something about it, while also lovingly teaching them how.
I wonder how many of us, much like the disciples, think we have nothing to give? Furthermore, I wonder how many people in our lives are like the 5-thousand, sheep without a Shepherd?
Recently our family had a situation where a cable guy was in our home, and as the time was growing late, we ordered some pizza's and invited him to eat with us. I didn't know anything about him - only that his countenance struck me as one riddled of shame and pain. As we talked, he remarked of hard things he's walked through and called himself, "white trash." I ached for him because I, too, have felt like trash in the course of my life. Before I knew it, I entered the Lord into the conversation and, to my astonishment, he made a confession of a prior church-going. Immediately I thought of the 5-thousand. Like them, this young man was living as a sheep without the love, care, or leading of his Shepherd. I couldn't help but to share some of my own testimony with him, even asking him to join us at church sometime. He mentioned several times he might. I pray he does!
What I shared with him didn’t seem like much, but faith can multiply our little into much.
So, this has left me wondering—
Is there someone in your life that the Lord is nudging you to have compassion on and to meet their needs? If so, you can surely look heavenward, ask for Jesus' blessing, and break what's He's given you into usefulness over that person's life. Even if you're exhausted in this season, as were the disciples, you have a faithful supply from your Father's blessing to give even still. In the natural, your resources might seem depleted, but in the supernatural everything you need is a prayer away. While we may think what we want is rest, Jesus often calls us to put other's needs before our own. In the end, much like the leftover basketfuls, the Father provides us with more than enough to be servants of all—and, interestingly, we're often refreshed too.
I’d love to close in a prayer:
Father, thank You for Your life-giving Word and Your gracious disposition to all people. Not only do You care for our physical well-being, You care for our emotional and spiritual well-being too. More than anything, Lord, we ask for Your heartbeat to consume us through and through. We are nothing without You, but we are full of worth and the Spirit in You. I ask for Your love, leadership, and gracious compassion for others to be abundantly supplied in our hearts and lives. Unto You this life we raise.
In Your mighty Name, Jesus --