Rhythms of Solitude and Service

by Feb 19, 2016Cultivate, Deepen2 comments

Reflection: Mark 6:30-42

As I read the Gospel of Mark, Christ is whispering to my heart:

You have not yet poured out to the fullness of what I have for you, what I can do through you, because you still have depths of me to explore, to drink in. There you will find greater strength and capacity to pour out because I’m pouring through you.

But first, come away to a desolate place (Mark 6:31).

There have been seasons where I resist this invitation to rest. Why the word desolate? To be honest, that brings up instant reluctance in me. Will it be fun? Will I be bored? Will I have the self-control to sit in that place, with anxious thoughts and to-do lists cropping up, closing in? But then I remember who is beckoning me into that place. His presence before and behind. Making the way. Meeting me there. Always more than I imagined. Always transforming, inviting, renewing, when I get away from the distractions and find stillness with him.

Solitude is a space I regularly need. Like a meal.

But it isn’t the only space he wants for me. I’ve found that the seasons of deepest affirmation, hearing and trusting that I am the beloved, they come right alongside a call to greater service, to be poured out beyond what I knew he would ask of me.

As I read Mark, I feel reluctant to get away with the disciples. But, strangely, I soon after feel unmet expectations and a bit of anxiety when the crowd runs ahead to beat us to our resting place. Was the boat ride the only chance to catch my breath?

When I look at my meager supply of bread and fish and at the hungry people closing in, I freeze. Hide. Panic. I don’t have the presence of mind or heart, let alone energy, to put together a meal, to reach out and engage again. I was just settling into the peace of rest.

In a moment when you recognize your need to take a break with the Father, can you turn again to embrace the needs of others?

Can you adapt when you are called—towards solitude or service?

It seems like a lesson for his disciples then and for us, his disciples, today. This passage shows Jesus’ awareness of what his children’s need. His invitation to get away to rest and his loving command to feed the crowds when their needs are placed before us.

Solitude and service each can feel like interruptions. I need flexibility in this dance, to let him initiate and to learn to relax into the call of the moment. To trust that if he’s calling me to rest, he will give me the strength to step away and be still. And when he asks me to move into service again, he is the food, given through my hands, that will satisfy. And not just satisfy, but spill over into the mouths of 5,000 and into baskets of overflow, because his provision is just that extravagant.

This is the rhythm of resting, filling, and pouring out.

Solitude or service: which is your invitation into greater trust?


  1. Joy Waters Martin

    Just had a similar thought the other day –although mine looked more like this… deep intimacy with God and extreme battle going on at the same time …how can that be? It’s the dance …the rhythm as you say. Love it! Good to know I’m not alone in this side-by-side experience. Thanks!

    • Sarah Bond

      Thank you, Joy! I love how you describe your side-by-side experiences. I also love how God is comfortable with those places of tension, how he leads us deeper to see the interconnectedness of our experiences with him and the world. There is a place and purpose for those wrestling places and those deep abiding places, too!

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