Tag Archives: time alone

Seeking God in Storms

In an excruciatingly painful season for Jesus, He desperately needed time to Himself, space to grieve.
 
Reading in Matthew 14…Jesus sought to seclude Himself on a boat immediately following the murder of His dear friend & cousin John the Baptist.  His efforts thwarted by crowds from nearby towns, thousands with needs & expectations swarmed the shore crying out to Him.  Despite His own personal agony Christ’s compassionate heart compelled Him to spend the day teaching, healing and serving the masses.  By nightfall, He and the disciples gathered up 12 baskets of leftovers from feeding thousands.  The day expended, the disciples departed at His request and Jesus finally seized time alone to pray. 
 
Can you picture this?  Jesus, completely exhausted after a lengthy day of meeting others’ needs, withdrew to a hillside for time alone with God.  Far into the night He sat at the feet of Abba, poured out His heart, pressed in to hear from the Father, drank from the cup of God’s hand, laid back against Him to rest, listened to God’s heartbeat.  He tarried there for hours drawing strength, renewing His peace. Matthew 14:25 indicates between 3-6 a.m. Jesus returned to His disciples and found them in a boat battling strong winds and choppy waves.  In the midst of a horrendous squall Christ calmly walked across the water. 
 
The Lord’s day began with an emotional whirlwind of His loved one’s death and ended with a fitful tempest at sea.  Yet between the two storms, Christ intentionally accessed all He needed to not only endure but to bless others.  He pushed the pause button on His life’s demands to seek Jehovah Shalom…the God of Peace…and because of this He walked in confidence, in strength and in complete peace even in the midst of atrocious upheaval. 
 
The storms of life are torrential at times.  Loved ones battle cancer, finances dwindle due to lengthy unemployment, children rebel, spouses betray, depression demolishes the will to go on, sickness and pain ravage bodies, violence devastates women & children, drunken drivers end innocent lives, soldiers come home missing limbs or in body bags.  Storms rage all around us.  In those moments of utter despair when we feel we can’t go another step, God whispers to us,
 
“Come away with me to a quiet place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31
 

Even in His own time of profound sorrow Jesus was aware of the suffering of others around Him.  He showed great compassion for them, serving them not out of duty but from the recesses of His heart.  After meeting the demands pressing in from every direction He renewed His strength by stealing away to a quiet place to rest a while in the arms of the Father.  His was not a passive few moments of small talk with God but a prolonged outpouring of His heart and an expectation that He would hear from God and be renewed.  Rather than becoming overwhelmed by His circumstances, Christ was overwhelmed by the love God lavished on Him in those moments of seeking.
 
In my quest to become more like Christ, I pray I’m mindful that time to care for others is a gift.  I pray for compassion to serve them from the depths of my heart even as I am grieving my own painful circumstances.  Matthew 14 reminds me the key is intentionally spending soul-satisfying time alone with my Father, to cast all my cares on Him, listen expectantly for His voice and drink from the cup of His hand just as Jesus did, overwhelmed by His love, bathed in grace and peace.  In seeking Him I am able to stand even in the midst of the most harrowing storms.

 “And you shall find me when you search for me with all your heart…”  Jeremiah 29:13

Angels and JOY Rides

I’m having one of those weekends where I found myself with a huge internal ache generally curable only by remote seclusion and a box of soft tissue.  Deciding on the road to respite that I might find happiness in turning loose 330 horsies under the hood of a cute little sports car, I took myself for a drive in the mountains.  Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping quite like the challenge of staying in your own lane, running 60 through a series of 25 mph high altitude curves while listening to Tracy Chapman’s “You’ve got a Fast Car…so remember when we were driving, driving in your car, speed so fast I felt like I was drunk’…”.  My sincere apologies to the elderly man driving a whopping 5 mph in his 67 Chevy truck who had an expression of sheer terror as I blew his doors off.  I promise there was no alcohol involved.

I don’t normally drive fast.  Okay, that’s a lie.  It’s the one vice I indulge myself in when on remote back roads and no one else is in the car with me.  I call it taking my guardian angel for a JOY Ride. And if anyone turns me in to a state trooper, I’ll vehemently deny this as a piece of fiction. 

I have no idea where I was but I came upon a river and turned onto a dirt road that held me side-by-side to raging waters decorated on both banks by golden aspen and celebrated by a host of avid fly fishermen.  So beautiful and serene was it, I felt I had stumbled upon a living Fall Foliage poster.  I parked the Infinity “leer jet”, grabbed my Bible and headed for a quiet rock by the water’s edge.

Prior to arriving at this place my mind was racing even faster than the V6 engine.  A series of unrelated events in the past 4 days had left me feeling as if I had been through a tornado that blew me to places I did not want to go and an earthquake that shook my world.  Emerging from those I found a fire had ignited some painful things in my heart that I thought I had dealt with years ago.  At a loss for anything to say to God, I prayed a Mercy Me song… “Word of God speak.  Would you pour down like rain, washing my eyes to see your majesty…to be still and know that you’re in this place.  Please let me stay and rest in your holiness.  Word of God speak…I’m finding myself in the midst of You.  Beyond the music, beyond the noise. All that I need is to be with You.  And in the quiet…hear Your voice…”

When everything else around me ceases to make sense I follow the example of my Jesus who made a practice of getting alone with the Father.  Though some are great listeners, friends are for the most part unskilled at offering counsel.  And therapy can be expensive.  Jesus knew where to turn for the source of his strength and He must have treasured those times of aloneness with God.  I used to resist these ventures, telling myself I am too busy to escape for any kind of spiritual respite, trying to “make do” with a quick quiet time or a few minutes in the prayer closet at home.  Eventually I learned that these moments of separation…a week, a day, a few hours even…are God’s best opportunity to speak into my soul.  Today, He did not disappoint…but then, He never does.  While I looked to God, listening for His voice in my tornado and my earthquake and even in the fire, I didn’t hear Him.  It was in the quiet by the river as water crashed onto huge boulders that I heard Him whisper and His words were as clear as the sky above me…

“And he said, go forth and stand upon the mount before the Lord.  And the Lord passed by, and a great strong wind rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  And after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire, a still small voice.”  I Kings 19:11-12

My heart knows there are no substitutes for purposeful time alone with my Lord, to listen for that still small voice.  My soul rejoices every time He speaks.  May this Mercy Me video be an encouragement to you that when your engine gets all revved up, refreshing & restoration come when you permit your circumstances to drive you into your own time alone, shift into neutral, cool your jets and allow the Word of God to speak into your journey.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JK_6osCH74&NR=1