“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Luke 5:16
I love my alone time. No one believes me when I tell them I am an introvert, because of my energy and interactions with people. I am an introverted person with extraverted tendencies. But if I weren’t able to be alone, reflect, and rest, I would be snappy, irritated, and less-energetic and probably make some people mad with wit and sarcasm. I love ministry, but people wear me out. My kryptonite is people who never shut up. Just being real. Often times when I am around people for an extended period of time, I check out and I can no longer be there mentally while at the same time being there physically. Don’t miss this though, I absolutely love people. I love engaging people, ministering to people, challenging people, shepherding people, and leading people towards the truth of Christ. But I must retreat…a lot. However, this retreat, moving back or withdrawing, isn’t just necessary for people who are more quiet and secluded, it’s for everyone! In fact, according to this passage in Luke 5, it was also for Jesus. Key in on that, even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ benefited from? a retreat. But not just a retreat, a retreat alone with the Father. “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
Jesus had just gotten done showing the disciples how to snatch up fish the right way, which was another teachable moment for our scholarly disciples. Jesus healed a man with leprosy, and then crowds sought him out for their own benefit. They wanted healing. But right after this moment, the verse says Jesus withdrew to a private place to pray. These people wanted Jesus for healing, but Jesus wanted God for true spiritual rest and communion. Our Lord and Savior needed this time. If the gospel of Luke isn’t enough proof check out another gospel. Mark 1:35 says, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed. Or Matthew 14:23, “And after he had dismissed the crowds he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” There seems to a pattern here in Jesus’ life. Jesus retreated often! Jesus prayed fluidly to the father. Jesus in his humanity needed this time alone, as do I, as do you.
James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you…” That’s a FACT! This verse isn’t saying you have to work your way up to God or earn a spot for him to meet you. It’s saying when you approach God in your fractured state, in all humility, declaring yourself in need of time with Him and restorative action, He will indeed invade! Verse 6 before this says God gives more grace! He is a generous God who wants to know you and meet with you! I love what Charles Spurgeon says “When we discover more of our weaknesses, God gives more grace.” In our times of solitude and intimacy with Jesus, we are declaring seven things:
Delight in His goodness
Need for His grace
Joy in his presence
Repentance of your sins
Desire to hear from Him
Dependence on His power over ours
Thankfulness for Jesus’ death and resurrection
The question is, what are you doing to avoid this encounter? Why is it so hard prioritizing being in the quiet? Time for reflection and quiet is needed to really grow as a follower of Christ. Some of our greatest encounters with the Lord will be when we get alone with Him and His word. Yes, there is power and challenge through preaching, ministers, blogs, conference speakers, worship music, and community, but there is nothing like being in a desolate place, just Jesus and you. When we want God above all things, we get God above all things. I truly believe if our Lord in his humanity often retreated to get alone with God, we finite human beings in our
fractured lives absolutely need the presence of Him “who called us according to his good purpose.”
Retreat is necessary, so bask in God’s presence!