Nov 5, 2008

solitary places

"very early in the morning, while it was still dark, jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."
~ mark 1:35

monday mornings at 7:30 i walk into my quiet, empty office. i do not come early to begin answering emails or returning phone calls, but to escape to a solitary place. there is a tiny room in our church building that is rarely used. this secret place has become my prayer closet, a space where i commune with jesus. a space where i write, intercede, worship, and cry for mercy. i chose the early morning hour because of the fact that the building is like a ghost town and distractions cease to exist.

this passage in mark narrows my focus to the ways of jesus. the escaping to a solitary place occurs only after a jesus had a long line of adoring fans following his steps, driving out evil spirits, healing simon's mother-in-law, and working miracles. i imagine that jesus was undoubtedly spent. though i am not one who drives out evil spirits or heals the sick, i am in some small way able to deeply resonate with. there are seasons in my job where i am constantly on the spot; september, april, and may specifically are months of pure mayhem with little to no rest for my soul. during those times the one thing i crave is to draw away to a solitary place and sit at the feet of jesus. as i read this passage i wonder, is this what jesus craved when he himself went to a quiet place to pray? was he so hungry for alone time with his father that he willingly arose while it was still dark to go and meet with him? after performing miracle after miracle, was jesus dry? (does jesus get dry?) and thus he went to seek refreshment from communion with his heavenly father?

this is not the only account in scripture where we discover jesus in a solitary place. it is a rather common theme throughout his ministry. there are stories too of jesus explaining things to his disciples only when they are alone with him, only when all the alluring distractions fade away. in mark:4 jesus shares a parable of farmer who went out to sow his seed, scattering them along the path, rocky places, among thorns, and some still on good soil. it was not until jesus was alone did he unravel this parable to his disciples. 2 parables later we see yet another story of solitude. jesus expressed a parable of a mustard seed to the crowds that followed him. often times parables delivered massive confusion to the listening ears. i myself wonder why jesus did not speak plainly instead of using outrageous analogies. but confusion is not the final result. the story ends with a picture of an intimate explanation. now that the lecture hall is empty, the teacher is found alone with a small group of students sharing with them everything that is meant through the parable.

solitude. jesus longed for quiet space to be with his abba. the ministry and life of jesus was always on the go-there were stories to be taught, people to be healed, pharisees to be corrected, mercy to be shed, and grace to be poured. and in the midst of his life as a rabbi and savior he finds time to draw away by himself. so too, our lives as disciples of jesus are filled with similar situations; for we are the continuing breath of the ministry that he began. and so too, we must draw away by ourselves to a quiet place and commune with the one who calls us Beloved.

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