“In the lowest moments of my life, the only reason I didn’t commit suicide was that I knew I wouldn’t be able to drink anymore if I was dead.” (Eric Clapton)
“Blessed is the man who can set aside all distraction . . . Act with courage, for habit is broken by habit.” –Kempis
We are asking the question in these posts, how can I move ahead as a believer in Jesus? What practices ought to mark my life and help me grow? I’ve talked briefly about reading God’s Word, praying, and being thankful A fourth habit that really helps me is drinking coffee in the morning.
No, seriously, a fourth habit is spending time alone with the Lord. I try to do that every morning (with coffee) and it is a very vital part of my new day.
I’m an introvert, so spending time alone is a welcome activity for me. I can be alone in the car driving for hours, take a long walk by myself, or just sit and read a book for a serious chunk of time. I’m not really energized by a lot of people, although I want to be social and to spend time with others. Especially if they are offering me coffee.
My daughter Amy is also an introvert. She recently sent me a picture of a t-shirt she thinks we ought to wear. I can identify with that t-shirt.
The practice of solitude is an important one. It might be easier for introverts than for extroverts. But I need that alone time for the health of my soul.
Spending time alone with the Lord in quietness or in reading His Word is a discipline. One has to get to bed at a decent hour if that alone time is going to happen in the morning.
Jesus said in Mark 6:31 to His disciples: “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” I heard one preacher put it this way: “Jesus said, ‘Come ye apart and rest awhile lest ye come apart!'” (to be continued)
Okay, all you prayer warriors out there! If you’re at all like me, your prayer life needs some serious work! We want to examine Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 over the next few posts, asking what prayer meant to Him. Let’s look at the first few verses here in our text:
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
The daily, active spiritual life of the Lord Jesus is an incredible study! As the Second Person of the Trinity, He became fully human without giving up His deity. Yet He maintained a spiritual walk with the Father through times of prayer. Often alone.
Alone with God. That’s one practice that is difficult for many believers. Just spending some quiet time alone with the Lord. Jesus models that for us. Away from ministry. Away from people. How’s your alone time?
For the Lord Jesus, prayer prepared Him for His “hour.” “The hour has come,” He says. Now, this, of course, is where we are not like the Lord. We don’t need the Father’s strength for the same work that awaited Jesus, the work of atonement. But, how much more do we need the Father’s strength and enabling for the much smaller tasks that lie before us?
What lies before you today? A grouchy boss? An unbelieving spouse? Rebellious children? Bills unpaid? Nagging health issues? Go to the Father. Spend time alone with Him. (to be continued)
My daughter Amy and I are introverts. We don’t care for crowds; we like our SOLITUDE. In fact, she says she going to get me a t-shirt that says, “Introverts Unite! By yourselves! Alone! At home!” (I’d wear that t-shirt!).
In an extroverted world, we introverts are often thought anti-social (and we pretty much are). How do Christians get STUCK in SOLITUDE?
What we are thinking of are the Christian disciplines that ought to mark healthy, Jesus-following lives. SOLITUDE is one of those practices that can draw us closer to Jesus.
The classic treatment of the spiritual disciplines is the work done by Richard Foster in his Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (Harper, 1998). He divides the disciplines into three categories. The inward disciplines are: meditation, prayer, fasting, and study. The outward disciplines are: simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. The corporate disciplines are: confession, worship, guidance, and celebration. You won’t agree with all that Foster says about these practices, but each has biblical support and is valuable for the believer who doesn’t want to get STUCK!
Our text for this area of STUCKNESS is Mark 6:30-34 where we read,
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Let’s think about this passage for a moment. Note that the apostles had been quite busy doing what Jesus had commanded and teaching others. They were so busy in fact that they did not have time to eat. Jesus invites His disciples to “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (v. 31). They needed SOLITUDE. They needed rest. They needed to be away from the crowds. Jesus’ invitation to His followers is refreshing. He knows our frame, our weaknesses, our need for quiet and rest. Just being alone — with Him. Have you tried that lately? (to be continued)