Tuesday, March 26, 2013
You're exhausted. You know it, everybody else probably knows it, though they don't seem to care.
All you want in life, all you can think about, is a little rest. Just a little. 30 minutes of peace and quiet and maybe even sleep would be a miracle.
In most of our adult lives, this seems to be a magic point. It's when we're feeling like this that the kids all get the flu at once, or the dog eats something weird and needs surgery, or your spouse starts having a nervous breakdown, or your boss decides to fire two people and make you do their jobs in addition to yours. It's at this point, when you're so worn down that you don't even have the energy to be mad about your boss being a jerk, that everyone wants more from you.
I learned something surprising today:
Jesus had that too.
In Mark we see something very important that I think most of us miss. Take a look at the story of the woman who bled for 12 years. Mark 5: 21-34. Read it, right now.
If you've spent time in church you probably know this story. It doesn't take long before someone brings it up. Jesus is on his way to help a guy whose kid is dying, and there's the woman in the crowd. She's been bleeding for 12 years. She's spent all of her money on doctors that put her through painful procedures and all of it has only made the problem worse. At this point, she's probably homeless. She's probably on that road because that's where she lives. She's in tremendous amounts of pain and has probably wished for death a couple of times, but instead she just keeps bleeding.
Then she sees Jesus.
She's heard the stories. This guy is pretty amazing. He heals people, casts out demons, does and says things the priests have never done or said, and all of it resonates with truth and power. He's big, he's powerful, he's important. She really doesn't want to bother him but as she thinks about it she realizes that with that much power, she won't need to bother him. If she can just get a finger on the very edge of his jacket, she'll be ok.
So weak, in pain, and desperate, she pushes through the crowd. She probably fell once or twice, but she made it to just behind this wonderful man named Jesus. She reaches out, touches his coat, and is healed instantly.
Here's the part we seem to miss: Jesus felt it.
In a crowded street, with tons of people reaching for him and grabbing at him and asking him to help them, he felt the one woman who reached out one finger to touch the very very edge of his cloak to be healed.
This tells us that it took A LOT of energy for Jesus to heal someone. A ton. He could feel that tiny bit of healing power leave his body because even that tiny bit was a lot. It took massive amounts of energy for Jesus to heal all of the people he did on a daily basis.
Let's skip a little bit, over to Mark 6:30-34.
At this point, Jesus has been going for a while with no rest. He's been traveling, and healing, and teaching, and casting out demons, and healing some more. His workload got so huge that he sent his disciples out to do some of it! They return to him, and all 13 of them are...
The bible says they hadn't even had time to eat because of all the coming and going (traveling, healing, casting out demons, dealing with the ridicule of the priests). So Jesus looks around, says "we're all exhausted, let's go someplace quiet so we can have dinner and get some rest."
Except someone saw Jesus get in the boat, and figured out that he was going to the other side of the lake. So they gathered the people in their city and they ran *around* the lake, and got to the other side first. As they were headed to the other side of the lake, people in other cities have asked "What are you doing?" " We're going to see Jesus," they answered. "He's going to the other side of the lake." With this news these other people also start running. They don't bring any food with them, they just run to the other side of the lake, desperate to be where Jesus is.
So Jesus and the 12 disciples, all exhausted and looking forward to dinner and sleep, get to the other side of the lake. This is supposed to be someplace quiet and serene, someplace they won't be bothered. Instead they're greeted by a mob. 5,000 men, uncounted numbers of women and children.
Just like us, Jesus got exhausted. Just like us, he tried to break away and people kept making demands on his time and energy, probably not even realizing what it took for him to give that to them.
How many times do we hit that place and get angry? How many times to we hit absolute exhaustion, and then boil because the kids just won't stop fighting and whining about how hungry they are?
Jesus got to the other side of the lake, to the place that was supposed to be restful and instead was filled with more work, and he decided not to get angry. He looked at the people, and saw that they were there because they were completely without guidance. "Like sheep without a shepherd" the bible says. That means that they were wandering around, lost, and probably very scared. He looked at the crowds making demands on him and his already exhausted disciples, and he felt warmth and kindness in his heart (compassion) toward them. Instead of getting mad, instead of lecturing them about giving him space or sighing about how he never had time to rest, instead of complaining that he hadn't even eaten yet, he gathered a supernatural amount of energy and started serving them.
I was struck by this today, as I was reading it. Because I don't have anything in my life that demands so much power from me I can instantly feel when the slightest bit of it is gone. I have normal life stuff, like dishes and making dinner and the people we mentor and our IT business and sometimes a sick husband. Yet I get exhausted and then mad. I get to that point where I'm sitting on the couch wondering if I have enough energy to even sleep, and someone asks me for one more thing, and I fly off the handle.
But I don't have to. That's why I was so struck by this today. Jesus was human. The only thing he had that nobody else did at that point was the Holy Spirit - which we now have! So if human Jesus, who was in a time where they walked everywhere, in a region where it was always very hot, can do all of these amazing things that required so much energy from him *and still find more energy for the people who need him,* then I can handle my life. I can handle my dishes and laundry and sick husband.
I always thought exhaustion was something Jesus didn't understand. But he did, more than any of us could. And if he can get through that level of exhaustion, expending that much energy, because of the holy spirit...then so can we.