One day as the disciples of Jesus were returning from an amazing mission, Jesus invited them saying, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) The word translated “secluded” here is the Greek word, eremos. It describes a place where there are no distractions—a place where the focus could be on connection with Jesus. A little while later, Jesus and his followers were surrounded by people with spiritual hunger and the perspective of the followers shifted. Now they said, “This place is desolate.”(Mark 6:35) The disciples of Jesus had become worried about what the folks who followed Jesus would eat. The word translated “desolate” is the same Greek word, eremos that as translated earlier as secluded. So what’s up with the difference?
What is the point we are making? It is a simple point: the difference between seclusion leading to rest and desolation leading to anxiety is what the disciples were focused on. In the first case, the disciples were focused on Jesus as He invited them to a place of quiet and rest. In the second case the disciples lost their focus on Jesus and were more aware of the circumstances making them anxious.
Beloved, Jesus calls us to a place of total focus on Him; not a divided focus with one eye on Jesus and the other on whatever we might be worried about. It is from our focus and rest on Jesus that we might navigate whatever kind of circumstance we find ourselves in. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” I know my focus has shifted when I become anxious or fearful. Whatever stuff we find ourselves in, let us shift our focus onto Jesus who is the beginning and the end of our faith. Where are you focused? Let us put aside the business of the day and listen to the One who longs to connect with us. “Come away to a secluded place and rest awhile.”