His little voice piped up from behind me as we drove to Church. “Why do we have cars?" he asked.
“So we don’t have to walk and we can go lots of places,” was my reply. Even as I said it, I wondered just how far I would be willing to travel without my car – I had a feeling that my world would become rather small.
In Mark’s gospel, we’re told that ‘Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all He was doing, many people came to Him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd He told His disciples to have a small boat ready for Him, to keep the people from crowding Him. For He had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch Him (3:7-10)’.
Can you imagine this scene? Jesus had simply wanted some downtime, but instead, He’s met by crowds so desperate to touch Him He has to teach them from a boat.
This crowd were not only desperate to touch Him, they were also willing to travel a great distance to be with Him. For example, it was 70 miles from Judea to Galilee – approximately a 2-3 day journey on foot; from Jerusalem, it was 68 miles and from Idumea, approximately 120 miles. The shortest journey was from Tyre, and even that would have taken at least a day. Their journeys would have also taken them through difficult and mountainous terrain and they probably had to carry some of their sick.
As I read these verses, I had to ask myself: how far would I travel to encounter Jesus? And I realised just how often I trade encounter for comfort.
We may not have to walk on foot or carry the sick or press through the crowds, but every day we face obstacles and distractions that seek to deter us from meeting with Jesus. From hearing His words and encountering His life. But oh how He longs for us to press through and reach Him so He can fill us.
What does it look like for you to lay aside comfort and pursue Jesus this week?
One of my girls is a spender. The moment she has managed to accumulate even just a couple of dollars she's begging to go spend them. I find myself constantly reminding her if she spends now, then she is delaying being able to get what she really wants. She's learning she must determine what matters and plan accordingly, because money, like any other resource, is finite and requires stewarding and prioritising. It cannot be endlessly stretched, and neither can our time.
My preference has always been to say 'yes' when people ask something of me. However, experience has taught this recovering people-pleaser that I can’t say yes to all the requests and opportunities that come my way – no matter how good they are – because every yes spends my time.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that ‘no’ is a negative word – that it is shutting off opportunities, denying ourselves pleasure, closing doors and causing us to disappoint and offend people. But I have come to understand that every no is really a ‘yes’ to something else. A yes to what God is asking me to prioritise at that time.
In Luke 2:42-44, Jesus models this for us. He had been busy healing the sick and setting people free in the town of Capernaum. What He was doing was a good thing, a great thing actually, and understandably, the people wanted Him to say with them. But Jesus was mindful of what God had sent Him to do – which was to proclaim and demonstrate the good news in more than one place. So when they try to keep Him from leaving, He says, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
I have no doubt that His no disappointed the people of Capernaum. But if He had said yes to staying, He would have been saying no to the Father, which in turn would have caused fewer people to hear the good news of God's love. May we learn from Jesus' example and spend our time well, investing it in the people and priorities that God has for us in this season so that His Kingdom purposes can be realised in and through us.
Where is God inviting you to spend your time today?