Ben Young & Samuel Adams’s book, Out of Control, has a very long subtitle: Finding Peace for the Physically Exhausted and Spiritually Strung Out. But the subtitle is accurate. They describe how our culture is out of control because rather than letting the greater efficiency afforded by technology such as cell phones and computers give us more time to rest, we have instead tried to cram even more activity into shorter time.
Young and Adams describe seven symptoms of an “out of control” lifestyle: out of shape (physical), out of sorts (emotional/mental), out of touch (relational), out of time, out of focus, out of balance and out of order (spiritual). Then they confront the lies that keep us out of control, particularly the idea of pleasing the world to be successful and the idea that getting rest is laziness.
The rest of the book takes a pleasantly surprising turn, as it is NOT another “how-to” book with seven easy steps. Instead, they dig into the spiritual disciplines of the Bible, and encourage the reader to practice a real “Sabbath” and take time to unplug completely from technology in order to practice the other spiritual disciplines of solitude and prayer.
This book influenced me to become more serious about unplugging from technology for a large portion of the day on my day off in order to spend more authentic time with God. It was a truly rewarding experience that I pray I will continue to explore for a long time to come.
Like Wednesday of Holy Week, nothing is recorded in Mark’s Gospel about what happened on Saturday, but we know about the day because Mark 15:42 tells us they buried Jesus before sundown on Friday, so they could rest on Saturday, the Sabbath. Nothing more is recorded until Mark 16:1 tells what happened on the first day of the week, which was Easter Sunday. (Matthew 27:62-66 does record that on Saturday, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, agreed to post guards at the tomb of Christ.) Saturday was a day of waiting, and wondering what would happen next. They had no idea anything good was going to happen the next day. They just had to wait on the Lord. Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Saturday, the day of waiting, teaches us to wait on the Lord. Waiting can be excruciatingly hard. For a couple of months, my family has been waiting to find out why my father had a spot on his lung that was discovered in January when he had another surgery. Finally, they ran the test on a Friday in late March and the doctor said the outside cells looked fine, but he could not tell if the cells on the inside were cancer, so he needed to send it to the lab and would have the results on Tuesday. On Tuesday, my parents called the clinic and they said they would have to call back, but the nurse never called back. All evening, my parents sat by the phone, and I kept calling to see if they had news. Mom said she was going crazy, sitting by the phone, waiting. They went to bed Tuesday, still not knowing if he had cancer. On Wednesday morning, the nurse called to say the doctor had been sick, but would try to read it that day and give her news. Later that day, the nurse called but got no answer because my parents’ phone wasn’t working. Finally, my mom drove to the clinic, and the nurse explained the good news: the doctor had studied the lab report, and dad had no cancer! Many of you can relate to that, because you have just about gone crazy waiting for something. Maybe you have waited and waited for that loan to come through; maybe you have waited for a test score to see if you passed your class or so you could get a job; maybe you have waited and waited for that guy you are dating to finally pop the question; maybe you have been passed over for a promotion but you’re waiting, hoping it will finally come; maybe you’ve waited and waited for your children to call you and come see you; maybe you waited for medical test results to come back. Waiting can be very, very hard. So you know how the disciples felt that Saturday before Easter when they waited. Maybe you waited but you didn’t get good news like my Dad got. Maybe you were turned down for the loan, failed the test, rejected by your boyfriend or boss or children. Maybe you got the bad news that it was cancer. The disciples who waited that Saturday were expecting bad news, too. They were expecting bad things to happen to them. After all, their leader had been arrested and crucified. But you and I know the rest of the story. We know that on Easter Sunday, they got news more wonderful than they could ever imagine. So as you go through difficult times, remember that as a believer in Jesus, you can wait on the Lord, when you know that even though you may waiting right now like it is Saturday, don’t forget that Sunday is coming!
Copyright 2012 by Bob Rogers
At first glance, it seems that nothing is recorded between Jesus’ day of confrontation on Tuesday, and Jesus’ celebration of the Passover on Thursday night. If so, it would mean that on the most important week of His life, Jesus took a day off! Jesus knew the importance of getting rest. In Mark 6:31, Jesus says, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Do you have a regular time when you turn off the TV, cell phone and computer, and just spend time resting, praying, reading God’s Word, and listening to God?
While it is possible that Jesus rested on Wednesday, a closer look at the text indicates that a couple of things did happen that day. Mark 14:1 says it was “two days” before the Passover. Passover would begin at sundown on Thursday night, so this means the events in Mark 14:1-11 were between sundown Tuesday and sundown Wednesday. Perhaps these things took place on Tuesday night, and Jesus really did do nothing on Wednesday. Or perhaps the events took place on Wednesday. Either way, what happened next foreshadowed the ominous death of Christ on the cross. Mark 14:1-2 says that the Jewish religious leaders were looking for a way to arrest and kill Jesus, and then verses 10-11 say that one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot, went to the religious leaders and agreed to betray Jesus. What happened in between shows that Jesus knew exactly what was coming, and that it was all in God’s purpose.
Mark 14:3-9 tells the touching story of how a woman (often thought to be Mary Magdalene), anointed Jesus with an expensive perfume. To show how expensive it was, it was worth 300 denarii, and Mark 6:37 said that just 200 denarii would be enough to feed 5,000 people. Some of the people there expressed indignation that the perfume was “wasted,” but Jesus said to leave her alone. It was after this that Judas went to betray Jesus. But Jesus knew exactly what was coming. That’s why Jesus said, “She has anointed My body in advance for burial.”
This should remind us that nothing spent on Jesus is ever wasted. We can never give to Jesus more than He has given to us. Isaac Watts said it well in his hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”:
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.