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. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Mark 1:35-37
Under the covering of darkness, He slipped away from the demands of His life. He left behind his friends and responsibilities, and found a solitary place to pray.
When my kids were young, I couldn’t just step out for a few minutes of solitude, but occasionally I did make time to get away with friends, to take a walk, or work in the garden. When they got older, I found that solitude was not possible inside my home and I would slip away to quiet places when I needed a moment to catch my breath.. But what I really needed was permission to take some time away to allow my Father to tend my soul.
Jesus got up- Often my problem starts here. I am so in the midst of the issues and demands in my life, it seems that I just lay down under them. I feel helpless and overwhelmed and so I sit in the midst of it. Challenges and demands convince me that there isn’t anything I can do to make it better… I just need to get to the weekend, or graduation, or vacation. So I hunker down and survive. But Jesus got up and I can too… even if it means doing it while it is still dark.
He left the house- My house is the center of my life. Filled with people and responsibilities. Everywhere I look, I see both the good and bad of my life. My home makes almost audible demands; dirty dishes in the sink need washing, bathrooms need scrubbing, beds need making, and then there is laundry. Inside and outside of my house are chores and projects that press against my soul. Oh, and there are people… who need attention and tending. Sometimes, I just need to leave the house.
He found a solitary place- I have an actual list of places that are spaces of solitude for my soul. I found that this list, already thought through provides an escape hatch to the busyness of my life. When my life presses in, and I need to find some solitude, I usually don’t have the capacity to figure out where to go, so I look to my list. Some of these places are beautiful natural spaces where I can be surrounded by the sounds, smells, and feel
of the natural world. I also have a list of rainy day kind of spaces, where I can find solitude in the midst of people. In a pinch, my car parked on the side of the road in a place without cell service will do.
Where He prayed- Jesus did not just seek out solitude, but He retreated to a place of communion. A quiet place wasn’t the end goal, but the space where He could connect with the Source of Life, His Father. When my soul is overwhelmed and the pace is blistering, I crave the calm and quiet, but the calm and quiet will not heal my wounded heart, strengthen my resolve, or redirect my perspective… only communion with my Father can do that. Our Father knows what we need, we need time with Him to prepare, encourage, and restore us to live the lives we’ve been given.
Like Jesus, when I finally do remember to get away to a quiet place to pray, others will eventually find me. My cell phone will affirm that everyone is looking for me, but I am supported and encouraged by my time away. The house, the job, the kids, and the demands of life will all still be there, but I will be stronger, clearer, and more grounded as I re-enter my life. A decision to leave everyday life behind for focused time to reconnect to Heavenly priorities, isn’t always easy, but I am better for leaving.