Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He lavished upon us every kind of wisdom and understanding (practical insight and prudence). Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will, of His plan, of His purpose.”
Ephesians 1: 8, 9
Today’s Study Text:
“And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitude away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone.”
Matthew 14: 22, 23
“He Was There Alone”
“It is in lonely solitude that God delivers His best thoughts.”
The Quest For Character
As I look over my schedule each day, do I make any time for quiet solitude?
How do I feel when I have had a time of seclusion, away from the busyness of everyday living?
Why do I think Jesus encouraged His disciples to, “Come ye away” for awhile?
“The more a (woman or man) loves Christ, the more (they) delight to be with Christ alone. Lovers love to be alone.”
Thomas Benton Brooks
“It is a fine thing to be out on the hills alone. An (individual) can hardly be a beast or a fool alone on a great mountain.”
Francis Robert Kilvert
When Jim and I were first married, we spent several long weekends traveling to Yosemite National Park for quiet time. Back in those days, I say with a laugh, there were not that many people crowding the valley floor and access to the trails was extremely easy. On one of our adventures, I “conned” Jim, who was not an individual who had done a great deal of horseback riding as I had, to take an all day mule-train trip up the side of the mountain to a perch that allowed us a “hawk’s view” of not only the valley but the surrounding famous rock formations as well as the free-flowing waterfalls, which on this trip happened to be at capacity water levels. Jim admitted, that while his back side didn’t feel too good after four hours of bouncing along on the back of a head-strong mule, the view from the top of the trail was worth every bump. There was just something soul-stirring being up that high with a gentle breeze rustling through the trees and the warm sun beating down from a strikingly blue sky.
The noise of Los Angels, where we worked at the time, seemed “light-years” away in the refreshment of nature. And in the evening, as we walked through the meadow in the valley at sunset, I remember thinking to myself, “God seems very close, indeed.” The solitude of nature’s wonder, moved me to the point that I well remember those beneficial trips years later.
Author Ruth Haley Barton, in her book Sacred Rhythms, gives us this important reason solitude is so valuable in our lives, “One of the fundamental purposes of solitude is to give us a concrete way of entering into such stillness, so that God can come in and do what only God can do.”
As I reflect on her words, I realized how little time there is in my life for “silent solitude” – those moments when God and I are totally alone together. To be honest, it is woefully lacking.
This becomes a personal tragedy because if we look at the life of Jesus, going away and being alone with His Father was a top priority. What’s more, as I looked at the times Jesus took all night to pray or spent time alone with His Father, these “solitary sessions” were intertwined with major ministry events. The more Jesus did, the more He needed to plug in to His Father’s strength, power and love. As the reformer Martin Luther observed in his own life,” If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” Alone with God – the secret of Jesus’ life and if you and I want to have the same ability to get through our own lives here on earth, we need time alone – time when it is just our Heavenly Father with His precious child. Henry Havelock Ellis reinforces the fact that Jesus’ effective ministry, had as its foundation, the time He spent alone with His Father. As Ellis notes, “It is known to many that we need solitude to find ourselves. Perhaps it is not so well known that we need solitude to find our fellows. Even the Savior is described as reaching mankind through the wilderness.”
After recently witnessing so much turmoil and heartache brought into lives around the world by natural disasters, terrorist bombings and unexpected calamities, I happened upon an article penned by Jesse Washington of the Associated Press, which highlights in my mind, the need we all have to take time, more than ever, and spend more than a few brief minutes in the presence of our heavenly Father. Here are some of the thoughts contained in the AP Article: “In 2001, we could walk away from our television. In 2013, bad news follows us everywhere. It’s on our computers at work and home, on our phones when we call our loved ones, on social media when we talk to our friends. ‘There’s no place to run, no place to hide,’ said Dr. Stuart Fischoff, a professor of media psychology at California State University in Los Angeles. ‘It’s like a perpetual shock. There’s no off button. That’s relatively unprecedented. We’re going to have to pay the price for that!’”
I believe Dr. Stuart Fischoff is right when he states that we are “going to have to pay the price” if we don’t hit the “off button.” And I’d like to offer this suggestion: What better way to stop the whirl of activity than to do what Jesus did – to go away, alone, even for a few hours in nature, and take time for quiet communion with our Father who would be thrilled to have us join Him in silent solitude. As William Arthur Ward assures us, “Practice the art of ‘aloneness’ and you will discover the treasure of tranquility. Develop the art of solitude and you will unearth the gift of serenity.”
I love these words penned as a prayer by David Jenkins for they contain the essence of what time spent with our Father will do in your life and mine:
in a demanding, noisy world
give me moments
when all I can hear
is the sound of a bird
or the rustle of the leaves.
Thank you for the time to stop
time to wait
time to pray
time to be with Someone to whom
I don’t need to say anything.”
“Settle yourself in solitude and you will come upon Him in trouble.”
Teresa of Avila
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”
Mark 1: 35
Take Time To Be Holy
“Take time to be holy,
Speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always,
And feed on His word;
Take time to be holy,
The world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret
With Jesus alone;
By looking to Jesus,
Like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct
His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy,
Be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive
Beneath His control;
Thus led by His Spirit
To fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted
For service above.”
W. D. Longstaff
“Because it is written
‘Be ye holy; for I am holy.’”
1 Peter 1: 16
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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