February 16, 2018

If a man is always available to everyone, he has little left for anyone. Mark, the writer of the second gospel, observed this.

When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” (Mark 1:32-37)  

There was an essential pattern in Jesus' life. He was incredibly accessible to people most of the time. During those moments, He breathed in constant, prayer. His Father was telling Him what to say and do (John 14:10). This can only occur with unceasing prayer; a practice He would later tell us is essential for fruitful ministry (John 15; I Thessalonians 5:17). 


But Jesus needed more to sustain maximum effectiveness in ministry. He needed quiet, secluded, personal time with the Father. Since ""all who were ill and demon-possessed were coming to Him"" and ""the whole city had gathered at the door,"" Jesus knew that the only way He could have undistracted time with the Father was ""early in the morning, while it was still dark."" 


... is a simple phrase, but telling. ""Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place.""  

Most fail right here. When called by God to rise early and make their way to the secluded place, they simply roll over in their beds thinking a few hours’ sleep is more valuable than personal communion with the Eternal. 

If you study history, you will discover that men and women who were great for God made any sacrifice to spend time alone with Him. It was the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price. 

Those who faithfully pay this price discover this is not merely about getting a few verses for the day or reeling off a quick, dutiful laundry list of prayers. 

God has been waiting for them. 

He longs for His children to be with Him, knowing certain things are accomplished only in seclusion. 

Good moms and dads understand this. If they have multiple children, they make time for each one individually. They have things to say to the whole family, but personal discipling must happen one-on-one. 

Our Father wants to hear and gain the heart of each of His children, which can only be done in private. In these precious moments, a son or daughter can pour out their soul to the One who knows them best. They can be completely transparent with no embarrassment.  

Like King David, they can lament and doubt, question and cry as they discharge their hearts to God. But before the secluded time is over, they will hear the Father speak the exact words they need. They will feel His everlasting arms beneath and around them, comforting and encouraging. They will know they are enveloped in unconditional love. He will give the words necessary to bring them back to faith and rest. (Read the Psalms and you will see this pattern repeated continually in David's prayers). 


Can this be said of you? Do you rise with eagerness at the prompting of the Spirit? Do you enter expectantly into the Holy of Holies, humbled by the privilege of spending time in the glorious presence of the God-who-Sees? Do you meet Him there? Do you wait on Him to hear what He wants to say to you in private? Do you exchange words of affection? And do you leave that place equipped to give a fresh word to those He will bring across your path that day? 

If this is your practice, you will have everything you need for everyone. You will not give people the noxious fumes of an exhausted life. The fragrance of heaven will be upon you; a fragrance that entices them to enter the secluded place themselves. 

Dear Father, forgive me the hours I’ve missed with you. I admit the weakness of my flesh. But help me to so value You that I will get up to meet You at any time. That I will consider communion with You my highest privilege and greatest joy. And thank You that You have graciously promised to meet me there. I’m overwhelmed and humbled by that simple truth. Change me, Lord, to be instantly available to You.

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