I get a lump in my throat when I stand on the lanai of this home I’ve rented the past two months in South Florida. I’m leaving soon and I don’t want to go. (I know, I hear you playing the sad trombone for me.)
Yes, I’m glad to have avoided most of the miserable winter up north this year, and I do look forward to seeing my friends when I get back. But I was born and raised in the “Sunshine State”; I have a history here.
I’ve been gone for decades. The truth is, I never meant to leave permanently; it’s just the way life turned out. But I still have family in the area and friends that go back to junior high. When I cross the state line from Georgia into Florida each January now, I’m convinced the air smells different. It smells like home.
I throw myself into the outdoors while I’m here: kayaking, running, biking, walking. I also do a lot of contemplating, reconnecting, and writing. It’s life-giving to me. But inevitably, I have to go back. A week, a month, two months, it’s never quite enough.
In the gospel of Mark, I’m struck by how often the disciples, too, were preoccupied with “not enough”. It was a recurring theme:
- the crowds were depleting Jesus’ time and energy (6:31),
- the children were distracting Him (10:13),
- the food kept coming up short (6:35 and 8:1), and most alarmingly,
- Jesus insisted on talking about dying (8:31 and 10:32-34)! Their time with Him was too short already; they didn’t want to talk about His death (9:32).
There’s a fascinating exchange about halfway through Chapter 8 where they are on a boat and Jesus warns them to “watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod”. The disciples are completely flummoxed. They think maybe He’s talking about bread (again) and they’re worried because they’ve only brought one loaf with them on the boat.
Drawing from His usual deep well of patience, Jesus asks why in the world they’re talking about bread? He reminds them that bread is clearly not an issue. Just days earlier He had miraculously fed thousands – TWICE – with plenty of bread and fish left over. He even has them say out loud how much extra they had gathered up afterward. (Not because He has forgotten, mind you, He just wants to make a point.)
Yes, yes, they remember. Twelve baskets the first time, seven the second time.
Then Jesus asks them, “Do you still not understand?”
No, apparently they didn’t.
Even after two mind-blowing miracles involving bread, they were still worried about running out. Just like us, they needed to be reminded over and over that His goodness had no end, that He would always give them what they needed … and more. Even His death was so they could live forever.
I don’t know if the light bulb went on in their heads that day or not. Based on subsequent events recorded in Mark, I think it took a while longer for them to realize Jesus’ real identity and purpose.
But the light went on for me. The message I needed to hear from God’s Word was plain from that story:
He’s been beyond generous to me. His goodness doesn’t run out and His love just keeps washing over me. There is no limit to His kindness toward me and if He never does another thing for me, He died in my place so I could live eternally with Him.
That’s more than enough.
As I prepare now to leave Florida, I plan to take this message from Mark 8 with me, along with a full-to-overflowing heart, a boatload of memories, and enough pictures to fill at least seven baskets…maybe 12.
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