He told His disciples to have a boat ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush Him. Mark 3:9
We’ve all been there: that crazy line up of everything happening at once. For us, it was a two-and-a-half day span with a school concert, a spelling bee, karate, piano, band practice, a MOSAIC Kids event, a MOSAIC Moms group , a conference call, and Friday playdates. All that was just leading up to my husband’s Fun Run on Saturday morning at 7 a.m., at our home, where we fed a group of 30 runners a hot breakfast after their morning run.
During that whole time, I kept hearing the refrain in my head from an old television commercial about bubble bath. In it, the mom is run ragged with calamity after calamity. She turns to the camera and says, “Calgon, take me away.” It ends with her in a luxurious bubble bath, eyes closed, head laid back, and a look of true serenity on her face. You envied the fact that she found her peace, and you were willing to pay any price for a bottle of that Calgon.
Jesus knows that place we get to: that place where demand after demand is made of us. He knows what it’s like to have our kids, and all the other people in our lives, crowding around us, tugging on our sleeves for attention, pulling on our sense of obligation that makes us take on even more.
Once He began His public ministry, word spread like wildfire. He couldn’t enter a town without people flocking to Him in the hundreds and thousands, tugging on His robes to be healed, begging for His time and attention. Frequently, His compassion got the better of Him, and He would spread Himself thinner to meet the needs of the people.
But He did draw a hard line, a boundary that He had to maintain in order to keep doing what He was doing. That line, that boundary, was to protect His time for sleep, solitude, and prayer. Jesus was human like us, with the basic physical need for rest. He was also a spiritual being, well aware of the fact that the only way to refill His spiritual well was through prayer, time away from it all, in communion with God.
Being so popular, He had to be creative in how He met those needs. We read in the Gospels how He would sleep in the back of boats, get up early to go off and pray, and go off alone into the mountains, dessert, or gardens to be with God. In this passage, He’s asking His disciples to have a boat ready for Him so He can get some distance from the crowds, away from the crush of bodies wanting to pull at Him with their needs.
Although it’s to a much lesser degree, motherhood can feel like this sometimes. All the demands crowd around us, with our kids constantly pulling at us, figuratively and literally. We’re so mired down in the effort to meet their needs, we sometimes can’t tell where we end and they begin. We start losing ourselves, forgetting that we ever had a life before them. We’re so exhausted, we can’t even see the end of the tunnel, never mind the light there.
That’s when we need our own boat, our own escape route to get some distance from the crush of bodies, the crush of demands. We shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting and needing some space. Jesus role modeled this concept for a reason, because it’s a legitimate need. This Scripture passage is our life line, our permission slip. It tells us it’s okay, and extremely necessary to get some distance to refuel and rejuvenate.
Personally, I have a lot of boats in my life: Panera Cafe, my prayer space in my bedroom, and the recliner in my living room (with ear plugs in my ears). However, my goal is to get to that place where I have a boat in my mind. In the midst of the chaos, when I can’t step away, I can step into it. I want it to be a simple, wooden row boat, one that I invite Jesus into, fully confident that He will calm whatever storm that is raging in my life. Like the woman in the Calgon commercial, I want to lay in my wooden boat in my mind, eyes closed, head back, as the boat gently sways, lulling me into a state of complete and utter peace.
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