Monday, October 14, 2019

Day Retreat: Beauty and Solitude

It was such a beautiful day to spend out at Glen Eyrie - my favorite place! A friend met me out there to take some photos of me journaling, writing and studying - the things that I do when I get a day out there!

This is just a special place and one where I feel so at home, at peace and close to the Lord's presence. My theme for the day was really to be in a place of listening and to come away with Him to a quiet place such as we read in Mark 1:35, "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."

I've also been thinking a lot about this verse: Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

I took time to write a lot of thoughts to the Lord, questions that are on my heart right now. And enjoyed spending some time in Mark 6 -

The disciples had just been through a very draining and sorrowful situation with John the Baptist being beheaded. I imagine he was such a spiritual giant to them in the family of faith and such an example as he prepared the way for the Lord. In Mark 6:29 we see that the disciples were the ones who received the body of the John the Baptist and took care of laying it in the tomb. This would also be draining emotionally, physically and spiritually on top of their grieving.

Specifically, I wanted to look at what came after this situation where these human men were exhausted, drained and trying to work through and process so many feelings and thoughts.

Thought number one: God is sovereign. He was still sovereign even after John the Baptist was beheaded through a request from Herodias' daughter or even in walking through a difficult journey with a loved one, an illness, the loss of a job or any other combination of hard and draining things.

The first thing the disciples did was return to Jesus and tell Him what had been going on - they got Him up to speed, which is rather a humorous thought if you think about catching up with the Sovereign Lord - yet that is what He wants from us, even from me - He longs for me to sit and have a heart-to-heart chat while sipping tea in comfy chairs by a cozy fire or at least that visual image is there - this is how comfortable He wants us to be with Him.

He cares about these details of our day and He wants us to share our realities, our burdens with Him. So, I love the next hing He says to the disciples - His response to their "dump" of all that had been going on, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while." {ESV} and in the NIV we read, "Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

I don't think desolate has to mean something like a hot, dry, barren desert. Based on multiple translations - it seems to mean solitary, quiet, alone and secluded - that sort of feeling. Jesus knows the reality of what they have had going on and He knows the anecdote or prescription needed is this: to come away with Him, to pursue Jesus, to let the other voices fall away and be reminded who He is and who we are in Him.

They needed a place that is out of the public eye, a place that is withdrawn, a place that focuses on living for an audience of One. He encourages them to rest a while - there isn't necessarily a time limit because that may vary. But solitude, time with Him and rest are the things He knows they would benefit from.

The verse goes on to explain that there had been much coming and going, lots going on and they hadn't even had time to eat. Eating feels like one of our most basic needs and it is hard to imagine that there was no time to eat. But the point is, they were worn down and in need of refreshment and renewal.

Verse 32 of Mark 6 proceeds to show that they got in a boat and went away to be alone and withdraw for a time of healing - yet we also read that there were many who recognized them and started a buzz of flurry to run to the place where they would come ashore.

Jesus had great compassion on them and saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd. They needed leading and guiding - and oh what a gentle shepherd He is. The disciples wanted to send the people away but Jesus encouraged the disciples to feed them - we know this as the well-loved story of the feeding of the 5,000.

This shows me that I cannot and must not idolize my quiet retreat time with Him, there may still be opportunity for ministry even in a season of weariness and rest. He can still use me when I'm at this weak and weary place and maybe even moreso.

He values time for stillness - but most of all, He has a heart for those who are searching. Yes, prioritize alone time with Him - but not at the cost of forsaking the Gospel. Not only did He use the disciples - it was likely a mountain-top experience for them of seeing a miracle come to life in their midst - not because of who they were but because of who He is!

They were available for His use but only after saying "no" essentially! Ha! Doesn't that just who that His ways are higher than our ways?!

This is a powerful message coming off of a long season of hard and yet knowing that on this Earth - our hard is never over - we just wonder what hard is around the corner and when we'll get there.

My main take-aways from this passage are this:

* This cozy image of two over-stuffed armchairs in front of a cozy fire to meet with the Lord. I may have a fluffy quilt tucked over my lap and a cup of orange ginger mint tea with honey in my hand. I think I'd love to find a cozy photo like this to tuck in my Bible just to remind myself of the inviting, welcome and warm way that Jesus wants to meet with me.

* Jesus values and encourages prioritizing time alone with Him, pursuing this solitary and quiet place.

* Keeping the last point in mind, I also need to remember that I cannot idolize this time alone at the risk of forsaking the Gospel.


Unknown said...

Beautiful as always. I just got your second book!! It showed up on a Sunday. Perfect day! I have not commented in many months but I often pop by and catch up. Bless you. ~Chrissy T

Misty said...

Hi Monica ~ I loved this post...I used it as my quiet time this morning. I peek at your blog here and there but haven't had time to just sit and read much. I've gone to work part-time and still homeschooling and taking my girls to their activities. Sometimes I feel I barely have time to breath and I long for slow and solitude. Morgan is going to be in the Alaskan Nutcracker, so she is practicing for that. I know your girls dance, if they'd like to watch, I would send the USB after it's over and you could send it back. As always, I love your photos :) I went to watch Autumn horseback ride on Saturday and took a real camera as oppose to my phone...what a world of difference, it made me wonder why I don't use it more. A while back I thought I was convinced the phone was just as good but there's something about holding a real camera in your hands. I hope you have a blessed week, my friend! ~ Misty