Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 11)

Text: Mark 6:30-32
The apostles returned and met with Jesus, and told him all they had done and taught. There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn't even have time to eat. So he said to them, "Let us go off by ourselves to some place where we will be alone and you can rest a while." So they started out in a boat by themselves to a lonely place.

Taking time out!

I knelt to pray but not for long,
I had too much to do.
I had to hurry and get to work
for bills would soon be due.
So I knelt and said a hurried prayer,
and jumped up off my knees.
My Christian duty was now done
my soul could rest at ease.
All day long I had no time
to spread a word of cheer.
No time to speak of Christ to friends,
they'd laugh at me I'd fear.
No time, no time, too much to do,
that was my constant cry,
No time to give to those in need
but at last the time, the time to die.
I went before the Lord, I came,
I stood with downcast eyes.
For in his hands God held a book;
it was the book of life.
God looked into his book and said
"Your name I cannot find.
I once was going to write it down...
But never found the time".

There’s no doubt about it – we live in a busy world. With all the time saving devices in our homes and work places one would think that we would have so much more time to do the things we like to do, to spend more time with our families, volunteer more of our time to charity and the church.

Most of our comments about time relate to the speed with which time is passing. We look at our watches and say, "Goodness, just look at the time". Or "My how time flies". Or "We are already in the second half of the year. Next thing you know we’ll be getting ready for Christmas".

Time is something we wrestle with every day. Our lives are packed so full that the day is finished before we have accomplished half of what we wanted to do. In fact, experts tell us that we are trying to do in one day that not so long ago took three days.

If there was ever a busy bloke it was Jesus. There was a constant flow of people wanting to see him, to hear him, to have him heal their sick and to test out his theology. For the disciples it wasn’t any different. They were in the middle of it all and we are told that "there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and the disciples didn’t even have time to eat" (Mark 6:31).

So Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Let us go by ourselves to some place where we will be alone, and you can rest awhile. So they found a boat and started out for a lonely place’.

Time out is a good strategy in sports.
When the game needs to be slowed down;
when weary players need a short break;
when advice from the coach is needed to give the team the winning edge;
when a player needs encouragement and support;
when it seems that the opponents are getting an upper hand;
a call for time out is what is needed.

Time out is also a wise principle in everyday living.
We need to take time out and slow down from their busy lives.
We need to take time out to listen to advice from Coach Jesus.
We need to hear our Coach’s encouragement; his words of support when it seems our opponents – the devil, the world and our own selfish desires are getting the upper hand.
We need to take timeout to reassess where we are going, what have we done wrong, and how we can do things a different way.

We know all this but more often than not we struggle on – we don’t have time to stop for a while. In fact, we often feel guilty when we do stop for a while and have a bit of ‘me’ time.

Jesus didn't feel guilty about taking time out. He didn't make his disciples feel guilty either. They were human, so was he. They had a hectic life and there was a sense of urgency to get as much done as possible in the short time that Jesus had in the world. Jesus has no qualms about having a little bit of time away from the pressures that had been placed on him by others. He has a concern also for his disciples after all they have just come back from a strenuous mission. And so he says, ‘Let’s get away for a while to quiet spot and rest.’

All of us have days where we need that kind of invitation. Just as Jesus needed to get away for a while so do we. We cannot keep up the pace under constant pressure from all directions. Jesus knew that they had to be alone. They needed to retreat, so that they might be refreshed and renewed to continue to do what had to be done.

We hear of Jesus doing this kind of thing often. In the first chapter of Mark’s gospel we are told, ‘Very early the next morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and left the house. He went out of town to a lonely place, where he prayed’. It seems that the disciples didn’t see the need for Jesus to be doing this when there was so much to be done. They asked, ‘What are you doing out here? Everyone is looking for you’. In other words, ‘Jesus, there’s a lot to be done. Let’s get busy’.

When Jesus was about to be arrested. What did he do? He walked to the Garden of Gethsemane with the disciples. He went to a lonely spot and prayed.

We can learn from Jesus. He was never too busy or too overwhelmed by everything that was happening in his life to take time out with his heavenly Father and pray. Of course we can pray anywhere, even on the busiest street corner. But we can collect our thoughts a lot better when we are alone, apart from the noise and the hustle of the crowd, fixing our thoughts on God and talking to him about what is on our hearts and in minds at that time.

Yes, Jesus had important things to do, nevertheless, he took time to go to a quiet place and pray.

God himself called time out at the very beginning of creation. In the Ten Commandments he laid down a clear principle: ‘You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me’. God made us and he knows probably better than we do that we need that time out.

But what has happened to the timeout that God planned for us? Not only do we fill in every moment of the working week if not doing our job, then it’s driving someone here, dropping someone off there, meeting someone else, but we do that on God's day as well. God said as general principle: One day out of seven goes for God.
It is also a day of rest. It is a time to collect your thoughts to think about your life, where you are going, your relationship with God, to spend time in prayer. It is a day when you take time out to worship God and to rest for a while from the pressure of your daily lives. In fact, a part of every day should be time out from what keeps us so busy and sit in the quiet presence of God. We need to take time out and lay our whole lives at the feet of our Lord.

Take time out, change the pace of living. You can’t serve God if your body is fatigued, your nerves are frayed, you shout at everyone who disagrees with you. You are just worn out because everything and everyone is getting at you. You feel like doing anything but praising God. Both body and mind need a rest for a while. Take time out and change the pace.

Take time out to spend it with the God who loves you. He made you, saved you, brought you into his family through baptism and given you saving faith.
He has given you everything and wants you to continue to bring before him your every daily need.

It is necessary therefore for the Spirit of God to burn this truth into our hearts once again. The most important work we have to do is the work we must do on our knees, alone with God, away from the racket of the world and the din of people’s voices.

This work is the most important of all because it is a prerequisite to the other work we have to do in the world and in the Kingdom of God. If the labour of prayer does not precede as well as accompany our work, then it will become nothing but the frenzied work of an over-stressed person.

Taking time out with the Lord in the midst of your work is a prerequisite to all work for the simple reason that it is by prayer that we couple the powers of heaven to our helplessness - the power which can make the impossible possible - the power which can remove mountains in our life and in the lives of others.

In Psalm 46 the Lord says, ‘Be still and know that I am God’. ‘Calm down’, he says, ‘stop a moment and remember the goodness of God. Meditate on his Word. Let it speak to you. Don't speak a word yourself. Then let God know what is in your heart.

Nobody is too busy for that. The opposition is strong. It is not too hard to get caught up in so many things that taking time out becomes unimportant. Jesus was a busy man but he realised that if he was going to keep his ministry in proper perspective, that if he was going to have to strength to carry it out, that if he was going to defeat Satan and sin, he needed to be closely in touch with his heavenly Father.

One of the sins of our age is our frenzied lifestyle.
That’s why God sent us a Saviour.
That’s why Jesus died on a cross.
That’s why he adopted us into his family through our baptism.
That’s why he feeds us his body and blood and assures us again and again that we are forgiven, that all of the things we done to waste time are forgiven. That’s hard for us to grasp. God forgives all of this, even those wasted hours that we don’t even feel bad about.
All of our misspent hours were nailed with Jesus on the cross.
All of the hurt we have caused others because we have been too busy,
all of harm we have done to ourselves because we have tried to cram too much into a day were nailed with Jesus onto the cross.

Jesus knew just how stressed we can become. He knew that we would get all of our priorities upside down. He was well aware that our frenzied lives would take their toll on not only our health but also our closeness to our heavenly Father, not to mention the bad example we are giving the younger generations when we hardly have time to spend with those who matter to us – our family, friends, and of course our Saviour.

Let this word from God today be a catalyst to get you thinking about where life is taking you. Take time out with him and be refreshed by one who loves you so dearly – your Saviour, Jesus.

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
23rd July, 2006
E-mail: gerhardy65@hotmail.com

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