Lenten Devotion: Thursday, March 19

Psalm 83Psalm 42 Psalm 43Psalm 85Psalm 86Genesis 46:1-7, 28-341 Corinthians 9:1-15Mark 6:30-46

Then Jesus said, “Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.” There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
Mark 6:31

Though I’ve heard the story of Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand more times than I can count, something new struck me this time around. At the beginning and the end of this passage, Jesus leaves the crowd to pray, and encourages his disciples to do the same thing.

While the miracle may lie in the abundance of food, I think the far more important piece of this passage is Jesus’ retreat. On either side of one of his most miraculous events, Jesus knew he needed to rest, pray, and commune with God.

In our house, our kitchen is the hub of activity and chaos. This is no surprise: I calculated that I prepare 126 meals each week (not even including snacks!). There are school papers haphazard across the counter, dishes piled high in the sink, and a trail of Cheerios following the path of the small child who can “do it myself!”

And while I’m not feeding five thousand (though it may feel like it from time to time), the reminder to retreat before the miracle was especially poignant. Before entering the countless demands of the day, taking a moment to welcome God into our chaos might serve my family far better than the woman who can’t see past the dirty stove.

The parallels in this passage don’t end in the kitchen. Through the Holy Spirit, we have the opportunity to retreat, reflect, and work to maintain our peace with God, no matter our circumstance. This moment of pause goes against much of our production-obsessed culture, but the vital importance of filling our cups with God’s grace before facing the world is just as valid today as it was two thousand years ago.

A retreat always precedes a miracle.