‘Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.’ Luke 5:16 (HCSB)
Deserted places. Sound ominous, don’t they? But are they always a ‘bad thing’?
Jesus knew the value of being alone. Never completely alone, but alone with His Father. Even though Jesus was God, He also was a man. That’s how He came to earth, and that is how He spent 3 years here. We know He did not fall to temptations, and He never sinned. But He still lived in the world, which, as we all know, means stress, anxiety, difficulty.
I do not mean to imply that Jesus ever truly suffered from these things, except perhaps, when He was in the Garden, just before His arrest:
‘Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” ‘ Matthew 26:39 (HCSB)
We humans are easily distracted. When I have my quiet time in the mornings, I am distracted by such things as my dogs wanting to go outside, or suddenly jumping on my lap. Or the phone rings, or I receive a message or text. My mind immediately leaves the Throne Room and focuses on the issues at hand. Oh, I get back to it, no worries there. But to me, the fact that I would allow certain distractions from stealing me away from my Father, simply sends Him the message that little things in my life are more important than an appointment with Him. Which is certainly not so.
Distractions can be controlled, at least to a certain extent. If we plan our time, and turn off our electronics, make sure our pets (and kids!), are already cared for, and, (I LIKE this one!) our closest friends and relatives are aware of when we generally take our quiet time, then we are more likely to have fewer interruptions. We don’t have to spend an hour every day. We may only be able to spend 10 minutes with the Lord at times. But whatever time-frame we choose, we need to be aware of the distractions that may come our way, and take steps to reduce the likelihood.
So does this mean that if we do by chance have a real distraction that we have not foreseen, or been able to plan against, that we are bad Christians, and that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will be angry with us? Of course not! Life is full of random occurrences. God knows this. I can remember one morning, not too long ago, when my neighbor knocked on my door, bringing me fresh veggies from her garden. Thinking there may well be an emergency, I put my Word down, and answered the door. After a few minutes of talking, sharing, laughing, she went on home, and I went back to my quiet time. And do you know how I ‘made up’ to God for that interruption? With praise! I had received a gift that would grace our table that evening. Nothing but praise and thanksgiving from this here girl!
God understands us, and He knows how our lives roll. Many things are beyond our control. But devotion, faithfulness, and trust are high on His list of standards He has set for us. He wants us in our deserted places, not the ones where we are lonely and lost, afraid and bound up, but the ones where we can be one on One with Him, where nobody else will normally be. This is where we connect and share intimacy with Our Hope, because that is exactly Who and What He is to us. Always be ready to go to the desert, to spend time with the Hope of the world, of our lives.
‘Come near to God and He will come near to you.’ James 4:8 (NIV)