Come apart; or you will come apart.
In this statement Howard Hendricks is referring to the words of Jesus to his disciples in Mark 6:31. “And he said unto them, come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:” In Mark chapter 6, the disciples were given authority over evil spirits and sent out two by two throughout Judea. They preached the need for repentance, drove out demons, and healed many sick people. On their return from the journey, so many people were coming and going that they did not even have time to eat. It was at that point that Jesus words were spoken, “come ye yourselves apart.” In the NIV it reads “come with me by yourselves.”
In the above passage Jesus is recognizing the need to leave the pressure of daily activities, and spend time in His presence for the purpose of rest and renewal. This need is more pressing, I think, in our lifetime than it has ever been before. Our lives are crammed with activities from dawn to dusk, leaving little time for one another, let alone time with the Lord. I see many who are coming apart, because they have never learned to “come apart.” They characterize this quote from Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel: “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.” Lorne Sanny would describe those things which we ought to have done as “essential.”
That which is most essential in my life is that which Jesus declared to be essential in Matthew 4:4. “It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Knowing that this is essential, however, does not guarantee its practice. In fact, our enemy knows that my daily communication with the Lord in His Word and prayer is the most important aspect of my life. He will fight harder to prevent this than anything else. Even though it has become a daily habit, it is still opposed by the presentation of more seemingly urgent matters. In the midst of the call of the urgent, however, there comes the persistent voice of the Holy Spirit, reminding me of the Lord’s words in Matthew 11:28-30. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” As I “come apart” to be with Him I am made aware of His rest. Each day, I am able to contemplate anew what it means to be yoked with Him. We are inseparable . His unseen presence witnesses and understands each demand that the day brings. His power deals with each event in ways that I cannot understand and accomplishes His purposes. Much of what happens is beyond my control or understanding. Some days may appear like chaos from my end of the yoke, but He who is yoked with me assures me that He is in control. His call to me is to walk by faith. It is a call to grow in dependence upon Him. It is a call to relinquish the need to control or even to understand. His presence, His power, and His purpose are assured. He will do all that needs to be done in and through my life whether I am aware of it or not. It is my task to simply learn of Him. As I come apart to do this, I find that the daily demands and circumstances of life are much less likely to cause me to come apart.
In addition to the daily times with the Lord, I have found that it is also essential to “come apart” periodically for a more protracted time in His presence. At a recent Navigator conference our speaker, David Legg, related that margin is the difference between our load and our limit. These periods of greater time duration increase our margin by both decreasing our load and increasing our limit. As I wait in His presence, He helps me understand what part of my load can be delegated or eliminated. Waiting in His presence also increases my limit by renewing my strength, enabling me to “run and not be weary” and to “walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) To start this practice, I would recommend Lorne Sanny”s booklet “How to spend a day in prayer.” Setting aside four hours each month to “come apart” will be a practice that you, also, will find essential.
It is also essential that I highly value the relationships that the Lord has given me with others. The most important one in my life is with my wife, Beverly. I have learned that it requites a choice to make sure that this relationship is nurtured. This requires saying “NO” to activities and other meetings that would interfere with our time together. Other than time with the Lord, this is the most important part of my day. The Lord desires that I “come apart” to enjoy and to be nurtured by this relationship He has given me with her.
Some years ago, Beverly and I were asked to be in a small group in addition to our usual weekly activities. The following month we also found ourselves involved with yet another weekly commitment. We woke up to the realization that we were spending four nights a week away from our young daughters! Even though all of these were good, some were not necessary, and none of them were essential. What was essential was time with our daughters. We made the necessary changes to our schedule that would allow us to keep a commitment to “come apart” as a family.
The Lord has also given us another responsibility as individuals, couples, and families which he considers as essential. He describes this in Matthew 28:18-20. We call it the “Great Commission”. He asks us to “come apart” with Him in His work in the lives of others. His work of grace in our lives as couples and families was not intended to stop there, but to proceed through our lives to those around us. Jim Morris often stated that “everybody can help somebody.” Do we have even an hour per week to “come apart” with the Lord for His work in another life?
We have a society that is coming apart at the seams. In the newspaper we read about various illustrations of how it has become fragmented. The root cause is that mankind is attempting to live independent from every word that comes from the mouth of God. They do not come apart to listen, to heed and be changed by the Word of God. If our lives are going to make a difference in our culture, we need to “come apart” as individuals before the Lord, “come apart” as couples, and “come apart” as families so that we will be salt and light to a perishing world.
In Christ, Richard Spann