"Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while..." (Mark 6:31)
Come ye yourselves apart...
Where do you go when you feel you've fallen apart? Have you ever felt shattered and let-down--hard? Jesus, in the above verse, is inviting John's disciples to a change of scenery while they mourned the death of their teacher. There is dignity and fulfillment in mourning. Admittedly, I can't say I can touch or have felt the depth of sorrow they had encountered seeing John forcibly taken from them to rot in prison and then lose his life in such a gruesome manner. The struggles and frustration that I face pale in comparison. But it doesn't mean Jesus takes any less interest and concern in what I'm going through. And as I fall apart and have fallen apart in the past, He has been faithful to pick up every piece of me and replace it where it belongs. Even pieces that I thought were lost or that were simply forgotten about. We are infinitely complex. Up till now, it would seem He's the only one who truly understands us as we are. This is especially important as we are growing in His care.
"So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before Thee. Nevertheless I am continually with Thee: Thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory." (Psalm 73:22-24)
Notice the backbone of Asaph's realization here. It wasn't that he had made a grievous mistake by idolizing those who had prospered even as he suffered in their wake, though that was at the tip. If you look further down, as God revealed the truth behind what was going on (and going down, literally), Asaph saw that he himself was in the hollow of God's hand. All the complex and fear-inducing storms of life cannot touch you there. But fear is real. Fear of failure. Of famine. Of the consequences of our bad decisions. Fear of falling apart without someone there to catch us. Asaph the psalmist realized that he was always being held by God. It's just as true for us as it is and was for him. And as God holds onto us, the deep circumstances themselves will unravel in His time and fall apart of their own accord. Replaced with simplicity, focus, peace and truth. And love, first:
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)
"So He fed them according to the integrity of His heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of His hands." (Psalm 78:72)
Another declaration by Asaph. The Hebrew word (tabuwn) translated "skilfulness" also connotes intelligence. If God made me, it should follow, logically, that He knows how to put me back together. At the top of the page, Jesus invites John's disciples "into a desert place". I would say that most of us, myself included, view dry spells and dry areas as having little or no merit for our calling and our life. Maybe we've been through a "desert experience" or two, and they always seemed to flow in line with the mother-of-all-desert-experiences--the Israelites' time in the wilderness. A time of necessary hardship after a divorce from a formerly pleasant (read: secure; Egypt) place on the way to our Promised Land, whatever that may be. But life ebbs and flows. Even if we've encountered a measure of peace and victory from where we were, God is always guiding us into greater things. I believe this. And as we are multi-layered, sometimes more and more desert experiences are necessary. But look at what Jesus tells them. He says to "come...apart...and rest a while". Sometimes, the barrenness of your day, your week, your life, presently, is intended to get you to rest. To allow yourself to settle in to God's care and trust Him on a level deeper than you had ever done, were ever accustomed to, and also invited to. An altogether different take on the desert.
This came to me the other day: "It's not until you're strong enough that God allows you to suffer." Is that true? It's not gospel, but I do find an interesting point therein. I believe if God allows us to fall apart, for lack of a better term, it's only because He trusted us in the first place to share in the sufferings of His Son. See, Jesus knows what suffering is. He knows what it feels like to fall apart with no one to put Him back together. Granted, "A bone of Him shall not be broken." (John 19:36) But that was His physical body. Who knows how He fell apart inside when He was crying out as to why His Father had forsaken Him (see Matthew 27:46)? I believe any feeling of falling apart necessarily puts you on a level at which Jesus undersands intimately. He's there with you in your fragmented state, waiting for you to rest so He can patch you back up, stronger than before.
"He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." (Psalm 23:3)