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. | Mark 6:30-32
Verse 31 stirs my heart deeply. If ever there existed a true romantic, it was Jesus. Okay, I know that sounds a little weird… but you have to admit: it’s true. Yes, we see replicas of this love when someone gives up their life for another. Police officers, firefighters, soldiers, and even ordinary people like us perform such brave acts all the time. But never to the degree in which Jesus Himself did. He did it best. He did it completely. He did it once and for all.
So when I read verse 31, my heart gets all bubbly! An invitation from Jesus to “come away” with Him? Alone? To a desolate place? For more than 5 minutes?
Several questions come to mind:
- Jesus wants alone time with me?
- What exactly does He mean by “desolate?”
- As sweet as it sounds, do I even have the time for this?
For some of us, it’s hard to think Jesus would want anything to do with us… much less, that He would ever want to be alone with us. How could Someone so holy, so good, so pure allow Himself to come near the likes of us? Friend, if you’re in this boat it’s time to set sail. It’s time to embark upon the ocean of His grace. It’s not like He didn’t know what He was getting into when He pursued our hearts. He knew exactly who we were, exactly what we’d done. And He pursued us anyways. He died for us anyways. He loves us anyways.
Yeah, we’re not good enough. We never will be. But thankfully, He’s better than us. And thankfully He doesn’t love us based on OUR merit, our beauty, our achievements. Thankfully, it has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him.
Jesus wants us to “come away” with Him. Yes, US. Ragged, ugly, disgusting, sinful us.
Would we deny the King such a request?
For some of us, desolate places are unpleasant places, terrifying places. For some of us, desolate places make us painfully aware of how lonely we are. Friend, when Jesus invites us to “come away” with Him to a desolate place, He means to show you how beauty, healing, and sweet fellowship can be found in the midst of it. A desolate place doesn’t always have to be a scary, painful place. A desolate place can be the most joyous place.
Jesus wants to meet us somewhere we can actually talk, actually hear one another, actually see one another. Getting away from the world and all its distractions positions us to hear Him more clearly, see Him more fully, know Him more intimately. It allows us to make ourselves known more to Him. Yes, of course, He knows us regardless of where we are and what we do. But there is a tender sweetness that comes from laying our hearts bare before Him. And a desolate place is the best place, the only place for us to do that. No one watching, no one talking, no one listening in. Just us and Him.
The One who saved our lives, the One who died for us, the One who shielded us from shame, guilt, pain, and the punishment we truly deserved is requesting some time alone with us, somewhere we can actually be together.
Would we deny our Rescuer, our Savior such a request?
Life is so full. There’s always something… mouths to feed, dishes to wash, crafts to make, plans to organize, places to go, people to see… the list goes on. How can we possibly free up time when we’re already begging God for more hours in a day?
For some of us, life seems too full to go anywhere for “a while.” Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t. But life isn’t supposed to be decades worth of obligations and assignments and events and planning and… stuff. Life is too full? Too full of what, exactly? Not all of it is necessary. We just insist that the non-necessary things are necessary. Life doesn’t always have to be busy. And sometimes, life isn’t “full” of the right things, the best things.
We think our lives are full without Jesus… or maybe we have a little bit of Jesus in our lives but we can’t possibly fit more of Him in because we’re already packed to the brim with other stuff. You want to know the truth, though? The truth is our lives are empty without Jesus. The truth is the more of HIM we pack into our lives, the more free we become!
Don’t miss this: It’s about time WITH Him.
Not time doing things for Him.
The growth, knowledge, security, and discernment we glean from time spent with Him frees us up to let go of the things that don’t matter and aren’t worth our time. Half of our time is wasted on worrying about things we can’t control and planning for things we don’t yet know. Investing that time with Jesus instead, frees us and allows us to enjoy the abundant life (John 10:10)!
The Keeper of time is asking us to spare “a while” for Him (Psalm 31:14-16, Job 14:1-2,5). Whether that means an hour, a day, a month or more is uncertain. Perhaps “a while” changes with the seasons of life. Perhaps “a while” changes with our growth in Him. Perhaps “a while” really means “a lifetime.”
Would we deny Him who holds time in His hands such a request?
Jesus invites us to come away with Him to a desolate place for an unspecified period of time. For what ultimate purpose does He suggest this?
Forget your imperfections and shortcomings, and rest. Forget your loneliness and pain, and rest. Forget your busyness and to-do lists, and rest.