“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
This line from the gospel of Luke tells us of the path Jesus chose as He faced every principality and power in His culture. In the time of Jesus’ life that we see in the gospels Jesus was constantly challenging presuppositions about what God was like and what following God looked like. What we see in the gospels from Jesus is unparalleled patience and kindness and gentleness.
I believe the only way we can be that sort of patient, kind and gentle with people is by withdrawing from people occasionally to meditate. Meditate on God, meditate on life, ask God about yourself. Perhaps you will hear no response, but the key is to withdraw and find serenity. Try not to pressure yourself. If you fall asleep, that’s ok, if your thoughts drift, that’s ok as well. Time alone should not be another burden where we force ourselves into yet another agenda.
We must learn the art of disappearing.
About six months ago my friend, theologian and author Michael Hardin came to visit us in south Alabama. He gave some amazing talks that benefitted us and others in our community who were able to attend, but I believe the most impactful thing I heard from him that week was on my back porch, as my wife and I talked to Michael about some of the difficulties we had been having in our deconstruction.
You see, both Karen and I had become fairly charismatic in belief. As we began deconstructing some of the myths and untruths of our faith we, more specifically Karen, began to feel that some of the precious things she loved about Jesus were beginning to slip away. She shared these fears with Michael that day and I will never forget what he told her. He said that Jesus was not capable of miracles and such because of the fact that He was fully God, but rather because of the fact that He was fully human. Michael said that he believed that God has given us humans all power and authority (I think he got that from a book somewhere…can’t put my finger on which one it could be though), and that when we are looking for what our Father is doing, we will follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
That is somewhat of a long story to make this point. If we truly want to be followers of Christ, we must understand ourselves. If we want to be people who do “greater things” than Jesus did and if we want to impact the world for love and peace and mercy, we must be in touch with what is going on inside of our own souls and we must know who we are.
Too often the world around us tells us who we are and what we should do and how we should dress and how we should behave. This is why the art of disappearing is so immensely important. We have to, not should, we must break away from all the hustle and bustle and accusation that the world throws at us and allow our souls to be centered by the Prince of Peace.
In our first week we talked about repentance. If we do not learn the art of disappearing the world will never let us enter into that deep healing with Jesus that we so desire. In week two we talked about forgiveness. If we do not learn to disappear we will hear nothing but the world’s cry for vengeance. The world wants the scales of justice to be balanced, God desires mercy. Last week we spoke of uncertainty. Uncertainty will always bring anxiety unless we can get alone and find some time to embrace it.
Solitude is a necessity for each and every one of us. Even if you are an extrovert, you still need time alone to get away from the voice of the crowd and understand the voice of the lamb, the voice which comes to us in our dreams, or in the ripples of a creek, the peak of a mountain, the song of a blue jay. The voice of Jesus is the voice of peace. Let us become familiar with it this week friends, as we, withdraw to lonely places to pray.