As a mom, I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt like I have nothing else to give.
How many times have you been so exhausted that you’ve said, “I just can’t take one more thing!”
But, also, how many times have you said that only to have “one more thing” come up?
Indeed, we all know how it feels to be exhausted and need a break.
This is the proverbial "boat" the disciples were in, when we read their story in Mark 6. For weeks upon weeks the apostles had been traveling with nothing to their name but an extra shirt and a staff (Mark 5:8). They visited nearby villages, driving out demons, healing the sick, and preaching that people should repent. When they gathered together again, they each gave a report, then Jesus said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest...”
Imagine how good that must have sounded. Mark tells us they were so bombarded with needy people, they “did not even have time to eat.” (Gosh, that sounds all too familiar.)
Yes, Jesus. I deserve this! The disciples were probably thinking. Then Mark tells us “they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place.”
There was just one problem, to which I think we all can relate: “Many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.” (6:33)
“CAN’T I HAVE JUST ONE MINUTE TO MYSELF?!” I can imagine Peter lamenting. And all the Mamas say, “Amen” as a tiny hand slips under the bathroom door, again.
Did Jesus have mercy on them? Did He send the crowds away? No. He does something outrageous: He began to teach them. THEN, when dinner time came, He told the disciples to feed them.
Feed them? There were 5,000 men alone, let alone woman and children!
I can sense the tension in the disciples’ sassy response: “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread?"
Jesus patiently endures their sarcasm, then He simply asks, “How many loaves do you have?” The disciples report, as they hand the meager snack to Jesus... Their total inventory? Five loaves and two fish.
Jesus isn’t alarmed. He simply blesses the food and breaks it, then hands pieces to each disciple to give to pass on to the people.
Now, I imagine you’ve heard this story before, so you’re not surprised to hear everyone ate until they were full. Well, apparently the disciples weren’t surprised either. Not because they’d seen Jesus raise a dead girl and open the eyes of the blind. Mark reveals that they didn't even perceive the miracle that happened through their very own hands "because their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52)
Hardened by what? Most likely disappointment and sheer exhaustion. They were zeroed in on the escape they thought they needed.
In the following verses we read what happened after the world's largest picnic. Jesus sends the disciples away to stall the people and give them a break. Later that night, Jesus is up on a mountain praying. He looks out and sees the disciples in their physical boat, straining. The wind blew so hard they were unable to continue crossing. Yet, here comes Jesus— out on the water, walking. Now, at THIS miracle, the disciples were “completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:51-52)
The disciples had played a part in feeding probably 15,000 men, women, and children from 5 loaves and 2 fish! Yet not Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John share in their accounts that the disciples were ever “astonished.”
Maybe they were bitter that it seemed Jesus showed more compassion for the crowds than He did for them that day. But He wasn’t being heartless, instead He was trying to teach them an important lesson:
Jesus didn’t expect the disciples to muster up the miracle on their own. Their job was simply to posture themselves to receive, then pass the provision onto others.
The disciples wanted Jesus to take away the crowds so they could rest. Jesus wanted to show them how to find rest IN Him, in every season.
Friends, Jesus isn’t asking us to be the perfect Christian, the perfect friend, the perfect spouse, or the perfect mom. He doesn’t expect us to be everything to everyone. In the midst of our exhaustion and disappointment, God is simply asking that we position ourselves to receive from Him. He wants to work ordinary, everyday bread miracles through us.
In the middle of this seemingly never-ending pandemic, I think us moms are feeling especially depleted. We don’t have to leave the crowds (husband, kids, and pets) to find rest— we can have rest in every season by simply trusting in Him.
We serve a God whose power is perfected in our weakness. Instead of asking God for an escape, let’s position ourselves to receive the strength, the patience, the wisdom, and the peace that He freely gives. And when He multiplies what we have in our hands, may we be astounded and give Him the glory and praise.
Walking on water may be entertaining, but it’s the everyday Bread of Life that sustains.