Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto you.
Alone Time with God
The first line of the Call to Worship reads: “Come away and rest for a while. Leave behind your busyness to be fully present to God.”
How many times are we busy doing one thing and at the same time thinking of something else that needs to be done? Or worse yet, we are multitasking. I have my hands in dish-water scrubbing away on that pot that got scorched, my cell phone rests on the counter with its “speaker” on and I am kind of listening to someone dear who really deserves my full attention, AND with my foot I scoot the dog’s ball across the floor to entertain him. Another example is when we are in a conversation, the other person is explaining something, and we are thinking about something that was said in the past – or said by someone else on a similar subject (or totally different subject) – or we are busy planning how to “ADD OUR OWN TWO-CENTS.” Busyness, plain old busyness.
Do we do this same thing with our Creator? Are we so busy with our own thoughts and tasks that we do not “listen for His voice,” or do not see Him in the person we encounter?
In today’s Gospel reading from Mark, Jesus’ disciples return from a journey, a mission Jesus had sent them on. I suspect they were weary from their journey. When they rendezvous with Jesus to report on all they had done, Jesus says “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.”
From Adam walking alone in the Garden of Eden with God, to the prophets, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Elijah – to David who spent years alone in the fields tending sheep, and Moses’ encounter with the Burning Bush, we read about those who retreated to God in private.
Jesus had a habit of retreating whenever possible to have alone time with His Father. Luke 5:16 reads: “As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.”
At Capernaum, after teaching and healing, Jesus went with some disciples to Simon and Andrew’s house – but He found no rest there as Simon’s mother-in-law was sick. He healed her. That evening the city’s people brought their sick to be healed. And Jesus stayed up late into the night healing those brought to him. Mark then reports: “While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed.”
Verse 32 in today’s reading says, “So, they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves.” However, people caught up with them. In verses not appointed for today, we find that Jesus had compassion on the people who had tracked Him down and He taught them. The disciples thought that Jesus should send the people away, but instead He fed them all. More than five thousand people were fed from a meager offering of five loaves of bread and two fish. After the meal was served and the leftovers collected, He sent the disciples ahead of himself. In verse 46, Mark writes: “After sending them off, he climbed a mountain to pray.” The ultimate example of this practice was when Jesus withdrew to the garden at Gethsemane before His crucifixion, where he gathered strength and the resolve to complete His work of Salvation.
Today, as of old, retreating to God in prayer provides a place in which one can hear Holy Spirit speak – a place to gather strength to meet challenges – to listen and to receive instruction and comfort.
Even when life is so full of activity that cannot be avoided, we can still retreat to God, for if we’ve practiced listening for God’s voice in solitude, we have then developed the ability to hear Holy Spirit’s guidance in the midst of a crowd, or while engaged in activity. It may be easier to sense God’s presence while doing menial tasks such as weeding the garden or folding clothes. Yet with the habit of seeking God in silence, reading Scripture, and listening for His voice, feeling His presence becomes natural and encourages us to live fully for Him.
Seek that Alone Time with God. Be fully present and aware of God’s constant presence; it is the key to a deepening and restorative relationship with our Creator. Level with Him about all aspects of your life – your concerns – your failings – your joys and thanksgivings. Then LISTEN. Listen for His voice. AMEN.
Let’s join in singing Hymn # 237 – I Come to the Garden Alone