How often, how many, how far.

Those are questions we ask or imply all the time.

I want there to be a change in my life. How often do I have to take this medicine? How often do I have to say “I love you”? How often do I have to exercise?

I want to know how successful I am. How many subscribers are there? How many likes are there on my posts? How much money came in?

I want to know how far things are. How far do we have to run? How far away is his fame?

We are always asking questions, and always always always making assumptions about the answers to those questions.

We’ve been picking our way slowly through Mark. I realized we could reflect on how often, how many, how far.

How many disciples were there during the beginning of Mark’s account? We don’t know. But if we follow his story telling, “the twelve” aren’t going to show up as a designated group for awhile. In the part we’ve been reading, there are only four identified: Peter, Andrew, James, John. Levi (Matthew) isn’t going to appear for a few more paragraphs.

There were lots of people paying attention to Jesus, with various degrees of interest, understanding, and affinity, but the clearly appointed (as opposed to invited or inquisitive) aren’t all present at the beginning of the story.

How often are people interacting with Jesus? That’s not clear either, not with the precision we’d like. But we read that Jesus went to the synagogues preaching and casting out demons. This implies that the first paragraphs of Mark can be measured in weeks of living rather than moments of reading.

In our rush for answers and outcomes, we overlook the slow and gradual way life is. The way that Jesus was actually living.


I’m restarting a monthly newsletter. Called “Finding Words“, it will have some of my writing about finding words in hard times and will have links to words I’m reading and listening to. It’s different than this site, but it’s still me. I’d love for you to subscribe.