“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him…” (Mark 1:35-36)
Something we often overlook in our reading of the gospels is that even Jesus needed some down time. He made space for himself, mainly because no one would ever do it for him. As our passage for this Sunday suggests, though he had been gone but a morning, his disciples still “hunted” him down to keep going in his work.
We in the church love to focus on giving ourselves for others. It is an essential concept to our faith. But what if I told you that the gospel of John – famous for saying “No greater love has one than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” – that gospel does not say you should pour yourself out in love?
In the world of scripture and Christian mysticism, there is often a picture of love being something that we pour our love out like water. There are biblical images to support this concept. However, it is detrimental to our work in living for Christ.
If we pour out everything that we have, we have nothing left. Anyone who has lived through a stressful time in their life knows what it feels like to give and give until you collapse. Yet, if we crumple under pressure, we are of no use to anyone, including God.
The gospel of John does not use the imagery of being poured out. Instead, it suggests that our love (the energy for our work) should be drawn from the inexhaustible source we have: Christ. Christ’s self, true love itself, is like a candle that shares it’s light with us. We are to do the same – for in sharing a flickering flame, our own light will not diminish and the room will grow brighter.
Nevertheless, we will run out if we do not maintain a deep connection with God. In order to find continual access to that love, to that renewable energy that will not fail, we must make time to rest, recuperate, and recharge with God.
There will still be times when we feel as though our candle is merely an ember. Why? Because we’re human. We’re not perfect or infinite. Yet, we are the beautiful vessels through which God has chosen to shine the light of Christ’s love into the world.
So be sure to take time to stop, even if only for a little while, here and there. God needs us at our best. All the love-energy we need is there waiting for us to tap into. Reconnect with God, because only then will the whole world become alight with the love of God – through us.