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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Finding a Lonely Place

It is good to rest.  Take a Sabbath rest and not work.  I am learning this.  It really isn't that hard to actually do.  What is hard is saying no to the mile long list of other things I could be doing.  A chord is struck in my Spirit as I read Mark chapter 1.  I picture it like a real movie, lots of drama, passion and action.  Capernaum must have been a busy city in it's day.  Full of life and activities. Jesus spent time at the synagogue teaching, casting out evil spirits, and healing the sick. Word about his activities spread and many gathered to hear what he had to say. His days were long. Yet he was committed to the Father's will.

 "In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there." Mark 1:35

His compassion for others was birthed out of intimacy with the Father.  This wasn't his agenda but the will of the Father's.  He did not seek his own glory.  His words carried compassion and conviction piercing hearts and saving souls.  Why long before dawn?  Why a lonely place?  Long before dawn the world sleeps deep; unaware and still.  A lonely place away from others forces relationship; communication in prayer with the Father.  When alone you have your thoughts (or do they have you?) to contend with.  A choice stands in front of you.  As Jesus models for us, the lonely place is a safe place to lay down the thoughts in holy conversation.  It is a time to fuel up and re-charge.  To better equip oneself for the Great Commission of making disciples. This place transforms our thoughts to his thoughts.  We are then able to continue with the long list of to-dos, face the heaping piles of laundry, and participate in life around us.  It is in this quiet time that we find our purpose and ability in Christ to have compassion for others, not self.

"For in him we live and move and have our being." 
Acts 17:28
 I have just returned from Hawaii.  I know please don't be mad.  I wish I could have taken you all with me.  But then that would not have really been a vacation, right?  It was just me and my husband.  For the last 13 years we have not done this for ourselves.  We kept putting it off...later.  Later finally came.  We really didn't do a lot while there.  Lot's of sitting, napping and talking walks together.  It was very peaceful.  Sometimes the lonely place requires a change of scenery.  That sofa you always sit in to read your morning devotionals needs a makeover.  Maybe Hawaii is just too far away (and expensive!).  Take a drive, go for a walk and find a new place.  I found that a change in scenery is good for the body, mind and Spirit.  Get up early one morning, in the dark and go find a lonely place. Trust me, you won't regret it.

The amazing view from our 30th floor hotel room!

Anna & Daniel
I finished reading two books while away.  The first one is Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  The second is Radical Together by David Platt.  I would recommend both of them.  They are both challenging and require an openness to see things differently.  As I was reading I was making notes for myself and trying to digest all I was taking in.  My surroundings were different allowing me to see things in a new light.  In Hawaii there are so many people -- so many different people.  It is estimated that there are over 6,ooo people groups around the world who have not heard about Jesus (David Platt).  Wow.  As one sits along the shore of the vast ocean you realize how small you really are and how big God really is.  Yet, he cares for me and all these people around me.  All of them.  I was overwhelmed.  I needed no Internet to show me pictures using Hubble Telescope of stars and galaxies millions of light years away.  The simple fact that God is God and He loves us. Francis Chan states, " The greatest knowledge we can ever have is knowing God treasures us."  He made a place beautiful like Hawaii for his glory so men are with out excuse.  I had some quiet moments to ponder what I had been reading and reflect upon his Word.  This is a good thing. God speaks in these moments. He did speak.  David Platt says, "The Word of God is key to being productive for God both as individuals and for the church. Gospel driven obedience produces gospel filled joy.  "

"Faith expressing itself in love is what counts." 
Galatians 5:6

It's a choice to find these lonely places and have these God moments.  I admit I need to do this more often.  Good thing  it doesn't require a trip to Hawaii!  That would break to bank!  It does require some planning and commitment on my part.  I love Him, He is worth the effort.  "People who are obsessed with God have an intimate relationship with Him.  They are nourished by God's Word throughout the day because they know that forty minutes on Sunday is not enough to sustain them for a whole week, especially when they will encounter so many distractions and alternative messages." Francis Chan.



"In solitude, we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us.  In solitude we can listen to the voice of him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone.  It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more that the result of our efforts.  In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared.  It's there we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own, but are given to us; that the love we can express is part of a greater love, and that the new life we bring forth is not a property to cling to, but a gift to be received."   Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude.