MARK 1:35 (NIV)
"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."
The day prior to this story in Mark, Jesus had been teaching in the synagogue and healing people all day. In fact, Scripture says that after sunset, the whole town came to the house of Simon and Andrew, where Jesus was staying, and Jesus healed many who were sick and possessed by demons. Talk about a busy day! I imagine that Jesus did not get much sleep that night, if he slept at all. I also imagine that there were very few places and times where he could be truly alone with Father God.
In today's world, with all of the things that clamor for our attention, being alone is a rarity for us as well. When we do have the time, we tend to fill it with virtual voices — music, social media, movies, television.
What is it about silence and being alone that we tend to avoid?
When we are alone — truly alone — our thoughts are laid bare before God. All of our fears, doubts, temptations, and self-condemnations scream at us, making the silence uncomfortable at best and unbearable at worst. It is easier to keep busy, to keep the external voices filling our minds rather than face our own voice with all of its insecurities.
But what if, when we faced our fears and doubts, we found a love and acceptance beyond our imagination? What if we are missing out on one of the greatest blessings — sitting and just being with our Father — because we are too afraid of what we might find there?
One of the benefits of working cross-culturally is reading the Bible in another language. I often gain a perspective that I miss when reading it in my native tongue. In the Afrikaans translation, the Scripture says that “Jesus went away to a quiet place where he could restfully talk with God.”
When was the last time you talked restfully with God in a quiet place? For me, it is far easier to go to God when I am desperate, worried, or have a long list of requests. When I think of it, I squeeze in some praise and thanks as well. But to talk restfully with God in a quiet place? I cannot help but think of two lovers sitting side by side, talking about nothing and everything, truly enjoying one another's company without thought of time or impending obligations.
What would it look like to talk to Father God like that? No fear of being in his presence, just sitting and enjoying his company, laughing and sharing silly jokes or discussing deep and intimate things, listening as much as (or more than) talking, and feeling completely safe and secure in his love for you.
If we invested in a little alone time with God in a solitary place, I think we might be surprised at the returns. Rather than surviving each day with the same old exhaustion and repetition, holding out until our next vacation, we might hear the open invitation to return to the source of true refreshment and rest each day.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- What keeps you from spending time alone with God? Do you have any fears about being alone? Any fears about what you might find there?
- What is your deepest longing when it comes to prayer?
- When was the last time you sat restfully with God without an agenda? Take just five minutes today to be alone and try it.
This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Annie Erickson and her husband, Dan, live in Tshwane, South Africa with their three children. They are a part of CRM's Ethne collective and minister to churches and church leaders in the region.