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WITHDRAWING TO DESOLATE PLACES

A Takeaway from My Bible Reading Time



I’m not sure about you, but unfortunately, it seems that my day is best described as chaotic busyness and rushing about from one place to another. Truthfully, I think parts of the world that we live in glorify this busy pace. And with the affirmation and commonalities of those around us, I believe it's easy to fall into the trap of check marks and completions.


Maybe there is some sort of dopamine rush when a box is checked off that happens in the brains of task-oriented people like me –but unfortunately, this is not a subject I can shed light on because I have absolutely no medical knowledge on how the brain works. What I do know from the evidence in my own life and many around me is that many of us are overwhelmed with feeling like the weight of the world rests squarely on our shoulders. We can’t get sick or take time off because who would fill in for us? And if someone did fill in for us, surely, they wouldn’t do it the same way we would. And if it’s done wrong or not done at all, is incomprehensible.


It seems that these thoughts are the driving force behind our hectic schedules that either we have allowed or created. I find myself thinking that if I can just catch up or finish what I had set out to complete I would be greeted with the rest that I so desire. But instead of rest, there is exhaustion because if I were to catch up, there would just be another list that would be uncovered.


Rest is achieved with rest –period.


So, what is rest?

Most of the definitions that are offered in the dictionary for rest are more along the lines of activity or motion, but one of the definitions in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the verb “rest” as “peace of mind or spirit” and the intransitive verb as “to be free from anxiety or disturbance”.


Does this sound like what fills your day? Reluctantly I admit to you that it doesn’t resemble my days. As I began to reflect on this, I opened my Bible and was quickly reminded of the example of stepping away, pausing, and resting that Jesus for himself.


“But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Luke 5:15-16

Ok, let me be clear –I do not have “great crowds gathered” around to hear me and to watch me “heal their infirmities”–only Jesus can do that.


In an attempt to share my thoughts and my heart here is what you would find written in my Bible study notes underneath this verse:


“I find it convicting that Jesus knew that there was no one else that could duplicate His ministry on earth, yet the Bible never portrays Him as one that rushes around trying to check off the list. Instead during the most pivotal moments and decisions of His time on earth, Jesus would “withdraw to desolate places and pray.”

Obviously, no one else could sub in or take over when He stepped away to rest with His Father. What was next to be done would have to wait for what always came first. Jesus Christ had a mission on this earth of unparalleled significance, yet He never yielded to the constant demands and expectations of others because he demonstrated continually that the effectiveness of His earthly ministry was a result of his closeness and rest with God.


It seems that today, we see rest as a luxury rather than a necessity. We are overwhelmed by the fear and worry that if we step away from our responsibilities, everything will just fall apart. So, what we have done is taken on a responsibility that we are actually incapable of fulfilling and assumed more power than we actually have. We don’t cause or prevent everything from falling apart. Instead, we must remind ourselves of the truth that our effectiveness is not determined by our unceasing lists, constant activities, or incessant busyness, but rather through our connection to the Almighty God.


The truth is that, like Jesus, we desperately need moments of rest with our Father so that we can be effective and useful vessels for Him. When we prioritize time alone with God, we find peace and rest that goes beyond our current circumstances. What I have found to be 100% true for my own life is that I am most useful and productive when I intentionally carve out moments to be still and be renewed by my Creator. As I withdraw from the noise of the world to be alone with God, I find that I am better equipped to make decisions and face the challenges of life in a way that honors Him.


Would you take the time this week to examine yourself and answer these questions honestly?

  1. How often do you allow the demands and obligations of the world to crowd out your time with God?

  2. Do you fall into the trap of believing that your productivity and success hinge on your efforts alone?

  3. Are you fearful of reprioritizing a part of your day because if you do then it may all fall apart?


For those of you who answered yes, I am praying that we can all heed the example set by Jesus, our Savior by carving our moments of stillness on our busiest of days. I am praying that we will trust and recognize that it is in the moments of silence and solitude where we encounter the presence of the One who fills us and sustains us one day at a time all for His honor and glory.

 

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