I’ve noticed lately that our society is getting tired, and I am convinced that God has something better for us as citizens of the kingdom. Just pull up a chair and watch people. They run from paid work to housework to volunteer work, pushing every yellow light, taking the shorter lane, all for the perceived freedom of spending a few hours in the evening scrolling or streaming or otherwise disconnecting.

I’m not judging this kind of lifestyle, but I don’t think I have to (I’m also sometimes living it). There isn’t a person reading this who would call that freedom. A friend of mine who often takes sabbaticals in a slower paced cultural setting observed recently that people where he sabbaths have homes to sleep in. We have homes to hide in. Another way of framing it, is that we are always trying to get through the current experience, rather than living in it.

As I read the gospels through again at this point in the year, it is comforting to see that the 40-50 hour work week pace of our lives is probably not the fundamental problem. If it were, I’m not sure how we would be true disciples and still earn and income and survive here in Canada. I wouldn’t try to put a firm number on it, but from the narrative, I would suspect that Jesus actually spent more time “working” than I do – and yet, he never seemed in a hurry to get anywhere. It was as if the goal was whatever present moment He was in, whatever person He was across from.

Mark chapter 6, verses 30-56 provides a vivid example of this. Just take a look at the pace:

  • Attempt 1: “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to them all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not have a chance to eat, he said to them, “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (vv.30-31). So much for a quiet reporting session.
  • Attempt 2: 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 villages and got there ahead of them” (vv.32-33). Maybe not solitary enough?
  • Attempt 3: “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of them…As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus (vv.45, 54).

The incredible part of this is that there is no indication that any of this fazes Jesus. Look at his reactions to each situation:

  • “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them” (v.34).
  • “After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray” (v.46)
  • “They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.”

To be clear, Jesus is not here exercising his divine power to make his experience of tiredness easier. He is simply receiving each moment, each interruption and opportunity, as if it were the Father’s will for Him. Neither is He teaching us to pursue busy-ness. At every turn, he is oscillating from work to rest, seeking out solitary places and moments to be refueled and to enjoy the company of his friends and Father.

None of us would ask for days like this, but most of us have them regularly. What would happen if we approached them like Jesus? What if we chose to experience work, interruptions, relationships, and rest all as the Father’s will for us, each in its proper place? I think we would probably be the most joyful people in our workplaces,  homes, and volunteer organizations.

One of the great benefits of belonging to the kingdom of God is that we are always and everywhere saturated in his presence and grace. His Spirit actually lives in us. In the most pleasant moments, we are emotionally and intellectually aware of it, but in all moments it is true. I can’t think of any news or way of life that would be more compelling to our exhausted, busy society than that. Let’s read the story again and live this day along with Jesus as if he were inviting us to enjoy it with Him. I suspect we will find that Jesus’ very long day is not one we would actually want to end.