The Back of the Boat


Clay Peck: The Back of the Boat


If you’re going to try and get proper rest and renewal there are going to be some distractions and obstacles to overcome. We live in a fast-paced culture and many of us are addicted to busyness. We’ve got to learn to spend some time at The Back of the Boat.

I get that from the example of Jesus. In Mark 4 Jesus was teaching by the sea of Galilee. The crowds grew quickly when Jesus started teaching, telling thought-provoking parables. So Jesus climbed into a boat for a little platform, and some separation from the press of the crowd. He stood on the front of the boat teaching (for probably hours), until he was exhausted.

We pick up the story in:
Mark 4:35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

After teaching all day about sowing and reaping, farmers and mustard seeds, Jesus was tired. Maybe the disciples wanted to ask him questions about what he said and debrief the day, but Jesus waved them off and made his way to the back of the boat. He found a pillow and went to sleep. So fast asleep that he kept sleeping even when a serious storm blew in.

A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! (Mark 4:37-38, The Message)

In the midst of the storm Jesus keeps on sleeping. I’ve seen a lot of artwork of Jesus, many scenes from the Gospels… but I’ve never seen a picture of Jesus sleeping! But Jesus became fully human. He ate, he worked, he laughed, he took restroom breaks… and he slept.
Sleeplessness is symptom of a person who is overcommitted. Some of us tend to think of sleep as a waste of time, but the fact is, we are more productive when we get good sleep.

Jesus was intentional about maintaining a rhythm of on time and off time. Jesus taught on the bow of the boat (on time) but rested in the back of the boat (off time). Back of the boat time is not optional if you want to be a healthy person. You must find ways to establish margin in your life.
Richard Swenson, in his book, The Overload Syndrome, states:
“Margin is the space that once existed between our load and our limits. Margin is the space between vitality and exhaustion. It is our breathing room, our reserves, our leeway. It is the opposite of overload.”

Many of us unfortunately are trying to live without margin. We’re running on empty. We’re not just tired, we’re depleted. (There’s a difference. If you’re tired, a nap will take care of it. But if you’re depleted, you must find a way to get replenished.)

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