Blessed… For Some Time Alone (Part 2)

When Jesus heard about John, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. When the crowds learned this, they followed him on foot from the cities. When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion for them and healed those who were sick (Matthew 14:13-14, Common English Bible).

One of the hardest things to do sometimes is to find that time to be alone. I have learned over time that I cannot realistically believe I will find quality alone time in my study. When I strive to be alone in my study, almost without fail, the telephone rings or someone stops by needing to talk.

I am not complaining about that. It is what it is. When I was in the United Methodist Church’s seminary program called “Course of Study School,” I had a professor that said, “Your ministry begins with the ringing of the telephone or the person who walks through your door. In other words, your ministry begins with the interruption to your day.” While true specifically for pastors, if we are all the ministers we are called to be, the same holds true whether for clergy or laity.

We all do need that alone time to refuel, to decompress, to recover. But, the real work of ministry can interrupt those things. And further, they happen whether we like it or perhaps even when we don’t.

The lesson we are looking at yesterday and today falls in between the death of John the Baptist and the Feeding of the 5000. Jesus wanted to take the disciples away from the crowds and away from the demands. He wanted to give the twelve the time to re-energize.

Then it happened. The crowds somehow figured out where Jesus was going and set out to follow. When you are a rock star, and Jesus was a rock star of his age and more, I guess crowds become unavoidable. Today’s celebrities talk about trying to get away from the paparazzi who invade their privacy in order to obtain candid photographs.

In Jesus’ day it wasn’t the paparazzi, but often times normal people who, like the paparazzi would often go to crazy extents in order to have Jesus meet their need. Somehow I doubt the owner of the house was thrilled when some people removed part of the roof in order to lower their friend down in front of Jesus (Mark 2:1-5).

People would go to extreme lengths to reach Jesus. Traveling to the far side of the lake would be an easy thing to do if you really wanted something from Jesus.

The important thing here is, the lesson reminds us that though Jesus was seeking quiet time, alone time, “He had compassion on them and healed those who were sick.” Jesus gave up his alone time to do the work of ministry!

For me this lesson serves as a reminder that I am in ministry and that means interruptions to my day. So, if I want uninterrupted alone time, I better find a time when people are less likely to call. For some people I know, that quiet time comes when they rise at say 4:30 in the morning. That one doesn’t work for me. Instead, being a night owl, I find my quiet between 11:00 PM and 1:00 AM.

Your when doesn’t matter as much as finding that time allowing you to have quiet, alone time with God and still having the ability to be in ministry to those in need around us. Find your time.

When do you find time alone with God?

Joy and Thanksgiving,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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