Monday, August 24, 2015

Refreshment in the Quiet Places

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:35
 
When my father was alive, he faithfully and quietly slipped from the house every day for his hour walk around our Tennessee mountain, thus the name of our small town, Mountain City. Though I don't think I ever heard him say as much, I'm confident he talked with God as he hiked. Knowing Daddy as I do, I'm sure he poured out his heart to the Lord, sometimes wept, other times laughed. Even grumbled, complained at times. But most of all, I'm certain he remembered his God in all His wonder and faithfulness. 
The Scripture notes that Jesus often slipped away to a lonely place to commune with His Father, sometimes all night long.
 
If He needed to do this on a regular basis, how much more do I need to do it!
 
When I think about Jesus alone on the mountain or in a desert place, I most often imagine Him on His knees, pouring His heart out to His Father, seeking His direction.
 
But lately, during my quiet time in my new quiet place, I've pondered other possibilities.
 
Perhaps He listened as much as He talked. Basked in the sights, sounds, even smells He created. Marveled in the wonder of the stars He flung into space.
 
Agonized with gut-wrenching longing to restore what He'd made. Tempted to turn the pages and skip to the triumph--the overwhelmingly satisfying conclusion to all things. An ending to time as we know it, and the beginning of forever.
 
Hard to wrap the mind around. But I wonder . . .
 
Did He stroll and talk with His Father?

Did He rest on occasion, simply breathing in the Father's love?

Did He pull out His prayer scroll and methodically work through each name?

Did He ever fall asleep, weary from His interaction with the multitudes, too weary to pray?

Other passages help us clarify Jesus's routine.

"When Jesus heard what had happened (John the Baptist, his cousin, beheaded), he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick . . . After he had dismissed them (the crowd), he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it." Matthew 14:13-14, 23-24 NIV (parentheses mine). 

From this passage, we can see that after receiving the tragic news of his cousin's death, Jesus withdraws. Bad news warrants prayer and reflection. But even in the midst of retiring, Jesus pauses to tend to the crowd's needs, afterwards picking up with His prayer retreat. 

On another occasion, "at daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, 'I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.'" Luke 4:42-43 NIV

In this passage, it would appear Jesus' time with the Father affirmed specific direction to other towns to preach the gospel. Oh, how we need this daily time with God to seek direction for our day!

Luke 5:16 once again notes in spite of the tug on His time, "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." 

Talking with His Father was as natural and as necessary as breathing in air. He hungered for it; He depended on it; He reveled in it.

And discovered refreshment, reaffirmation, and redirection. 

If Jesus needed these things, I need them even more.