This has been my answer to almost any question I’ve been asked over the past couple weeks. Are you looking forward to school starting back up? Is your job going well? How are you, lately? What’s new in your world?
“I’m just tired.”
Some days it feels as though I have become a broken record, repeating the same words over and over to anyone who even attempts to start a conversation with me. I am realizing that those same words that have become my own personalized ‘answering machine’ have also become bricks that I have used to build up a wall around myself; a go-to response to prevent myself from taking a step back and asking myself the same questions. Courtney, how are you?
If I was to be honest, I would tell you that life is good. It is genuinely good. I am getting ready to start my second year at ICC, continuing my education and figuring out what I want to do with my life after college. I love being a barista, and my friends and family would agree that I am thriving at my workplace. I am healthy, and I am happy.
Yet, I am still tired.
Tired physically? Without a doubt. Even the fact that I work at a coffee shop doesn’t allow me to escape the reality of that. Tired emotionally? Ask me that, and now I start shifting uncomfortably in my seat, twirling my hair around my finger, and avoiding eye contact altogether.
We live in such a fast paced society that the idea of “taking a break” or “slowing down” can easily become a foreign concept if we don’t prioritize it. We are always moving on from one thing to the next, figuring out the fastest route to get from point A to point B. But how long has it been since we’ve really stopped to “smell the roses,” so to speak? When was the last time we’ve made the choice to take some time to admire their beauty? How often do we just snap a picture to post on social media, rather than just taking a moment to truly appreciate the view that’s right in front of us?
Does ‘rest’ mean taking a step back from the everyday hustle and bustle? Isolating ourselves from responsibilities? Gluing ourselves to a screen, maybe just to zone out for a bit?
Or could it mean something more?
I recently stumbled across the story written in Mark that tells of Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand. As I have been exploring what it truly means to rest, this specific passage began to minister to my heart in the most unexpected form. For the first time, I read this passage with eyes to see how the Master, Himself, led His disciples to experience true rest.
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. o they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
Jesus, in His kindness, allowed the apostles to experience what it means to rest in Him. After a long day without food, these men came to Jesus with the desire to find rest, and to be filled. Although the Lord invited the disciples to spend some alone time with Him, we know that this plan soon took a turn in what looked to be the opposite direction. While the apostles were looking for solitude, they instead encountered a crowd. A large, hungry crowd that also sought to spend time with Jesus.
I can’t imagine what the tired apostles were feeling, as they watched the numbers grow before their eyes.
As the night wore on, the disciples (even more tired and hungry than before), finally approached the Lord again, asking Him to send away the crowd. But Jesus simply replied saying, “You give them something to eat.”
Um, w h a t ?
I can hear the apostles in shock, asking, “But Lord! We are tired. We are hungry, too. We came here to be alone with you, and now you want us to a crowd of over five thousand?” More questions begin to pour out: “Where will we find enough food to feed all of these people? How will we gather the finances to provide?”
Yet Jesus had another plan. He asked His disciples, “What do you have?”
The disciples had five loaves of bread and two fish. But they also had obedient hearts.
Even though they were weary, the disciples chose to trust that their Master would provide. And, as the passage says, by the end of the night, all were satisfied.
Can you picture it? Over five thousand men, plus women and children…not only fed, but completely satisfied.
I believe that we can apply this story to our own, personal lives. The Lord longs for us to find sweet rest in Him. He gives us the invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
It may feel that in this life, where we are found trying to feed our own ‘crowd of five thousand,’ we only have five loaves and two fish to offer. The enemy would seek to fill your mind with doubt and anxiety, as you think, “I am at the end of myself. How can I find rest in this chaos?” But the One who provides is faithful. The Lord simply desires for us to give Him what we have, however little it may be, and let Him do what only He can do.
This is how we can experience true rest. Yes, rest can come in the form of solitude. It can come through times of intimacy, where we experience a sweet refilling. But more times than not, rest comes with obedience.
And it’s amazing what the Lord can do with hearts that obey Him.
As we choose to obey our kind, Heavenly Father–allowing Him to go to the broken and tired places of our hearts–He will begin to refill us with peace. When we trust Him fully, we open the door to let the Lord’s rest wash over our lives…and overflow into the lives of others. Because the disciples obeyed Jesus, they were able to not only be filled themselves, but also help feed those who also looked for satisfaction. The disciples did not feed the crowd out of their own strength, or by their own might. They simply had to trust, letting go of what they had, and place it into the hands of their Provider. And out of that place of obedience, the disciples found their rest.
…even among the five thousand.