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