”Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.” Mark 6:45-46
Jesus has just fed a multitude with a sack lunch. Understandably, this made the people excited. So much so that the apostle John reports that everyone, including the disciples, wanted to force Jesus to become king. Jesus, realizing what was about to happen, cut the proceedings short by suddenly commanding the disciples to get in their boat and start back across the lake while Jesus sent the crowd away.
I wonder if Jesus has ever had to send me away because I was too excited by my own plans for his work to take the time to listen to his plans for his work? I think he may have.
I began my pastoral ministry in 1996 in the New York Conference. It was in many ways hard at first. We were far from our home state of Michigan an there were many adjustments that had to be made. But after ten years of ministry all that was behind us. We were in a district we loved. I was partnered with a pastor and working for an administration that both challenged and supported me. I would have been willing to work there forever. No district in a different conference could have tempted me away.
But then I became aware of an opportunity to work with the person that had been my best friend for my entire life. My twin brother, Jere. I could talk about the job but that really wouldn’t be telling you why I chose to leave the place of the work I loved. I was leaving to be with my best friend.
Well, the new work didn’t work out. Less than a year after we’d moved half way across North America we were moving again. But there were no positions in New York. Praise God, he had provided a place in New England.
It’s been 11 years now since we decided to leave New York and I’ve come to see that it was God’s plan for us to not remain there with the people we loved, doing the worked we were loving. But we were so focused on fulfilling our plans we weren’t listening to his; so he send us away by the only means that would get our attention. My closest friend and brother.
I’m not sure we’re where we would have been if we’d been listening better way back then. But I do know that I’m trying to listen more closely to God’s plans and not focus so much on mine.