Updated on April 27, 2017
Learning how to stop
We played this crazy game as kids. We would stand on the edge of the cul de sac with our toes in the grass, fling our arms wide with abandon, tip our faces skyward and spin around and around as fast as we could go. It’s been decades, but this week that weird game has been on replay in my head; the cold of the grass blades between my toes, the swirl of the street, the houses, and the towering pine trees blurring before my twirling eyes. Round and round we would go; amazed at the way our world upended itself with each spin. But then someone would yell STOP! And we were supposed to cease spinning and just fall down. I never could get that part right. I could spin with the best of them, but I was terrible at stopping.
You see even as a child, I was prone to motion sickness. The leader would yell STOP, and I knew what was coming. That staggering feeling of trying to distinguish up from down and the way the sky wouldn’t be still. It was that moment right when I came out of the spin that I couldn’t handle. That moment when I would suddenly and overwhelming become aware that my equilibrium was off; that my world was out of sync. I just couldn’t figure out how to stop.
You know how this feels in real life, right? How you can get caught in the spin of your days? And it can feel good and you can think you are okay with all the whirring and the twirling of life. But then someone suddenly yells STOP! And you don’t quite know how.
Yeah. That’s where I am standing this week. After nearly a year of spinning hard and running fast, I am attempting to step out of it.
But, it’s harder to stop spinning than I thought it would be. Like the juggler who manages to keep all of the balls in the air only while they are in motion, I am finding that when I try to stop moving; everything crashes to the ground.
And to be honest. I have kinda grown to like the spin.
There is something about the drive and the work; about the feeling of accomplishment that can be intoxicating. Something about being a part of a movement bigger than yourself; of knowing that you have seen God at work. It makes you want to throw your arms open and just keep spinning. But.
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). And God has been clear with me that this is a season to stop. A season to step out of the spin or risk losing my balance for good.
So I am contemplating how this all works, and I land on this story in Mark. It is the story of Jesus sending his disciples out on their own. The Bible tells us that he sent them out two by two, instructing them to teach and to drive out evil spirits. And so they go and they do as he had taught them. And it works!! They drive out the evil spirits and heal people in the name of the Lord. Regular ole fisherman and tax collectors teaching and healing like Jesus? I bet it blew their socks off.
Mark isn’t known for giving us much in the way of emotion as he tells the story. But he does tell us in Mark 6:30 that when they came back from doing all of this work, they gathered around Jesus and began to tell him all that they had done. I love to imagine how this conversation would have unfolded.
You know how that is, right? When you’ve done the hard work, prayed, surrendered, cried and listened and then the Lord intervenes; a heart is changed, a relationship healed, a solution presented. And you know it wasn’t you. You know that it was the work of the Lord. You come out of the spin of all the work, all the prayers, all the anxious worry and you see it, the power of the Lord. It knocks you right off your feet. And you can’t wait to tell someone.
But those disciples? After all of those miracles, after all of their work? Look what they did. They went back and told Jesus.
Now, I am certain that Jesus already knew. I mean he is the Lord of the Universe. He is the one who gave them power in the first place; the one who did the healing and drove out the demons. They were just the vehicles he used. Why didn’t they keep going? Why didn’t they go tell someone who didn’t know? Why? I wonder as I read that little verse again. “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught” (Mark 6:30). Why did they do that?
I sit with it for a minute because being still is helping my soul to set itself right-side up. And then I hear it. The way God whispers through the text.
Because he was their source. They went back to Jesus so he could fill them up. That’s how they stepped out of the spin. They went and told Jesus all that had happened.
I exhale like I haven’t in weeks.
When God moves in our lives, when we see evidence of his divine intervention, when we know he is as close as our next breath, what do we do with that? I am often inclined to keep going, to tell others, to run and to point and to make sure that God is given the glory. And that’s not a bad thing to do. But look what the disciples do.
They go back to Jesus and they tell him all that they have seen and done.
They don’t go back because the work is finished. The story goes on to talk about how all of the people continued to follow them; the sick, the weary and the broken hearted. There is still much work to be done. Those disciples go back because they know. They know that without Jesus they are nothing more than fisherman, tax collectors and ordinary men.
So what about you and me and life that won’t stop and work that never ends? How do we keep from losing our balance and spinning out of control?
We do the same thing. We go back to Jesus and we tell him all that has happened.
There will be time for telling others. And yes, there will be more work to be done. All is not finished. But the first step out of the spin? It needs to be towards Jesus.
I am so slow to get this. But I am learning that it is the only way to set our hearts right-side up; the only way to avoid getting completely lost in the spin of this life. We go back. We sit at the feet of our Savior and we tell him all that has happened.
“Jesus said to them, Come off with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).