Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Quiet Place

But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.  Luke 5:16.
And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray... Matthew 14:23.
...He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.  Mark 1:35

If you've been with the Sisters in their challenge, you know that we just passed the 3 month mark.  Personally I'm about a week behind but I'm quickly getting back on track.  Have you fallen behind as well?  It's okay if you have.  Are you still making an effort to meet the challenge?  I hope so.

This brings me to my topic of focus for this post: do you have a quiet place in which you can meet the challenge?

During my recent scripture readings, I noticed in Luke that it said that Jesus withdrew to desolate places and prayed.  The word "desolate" struck me as an interesting word to use.  Reading through the Bible again in the ESV has introduced me to different words than my previous readings in the KJV.  As I researched for more verses on this theme in both the ESV and KJV I found the word "desolate" used both times in the ESV but in the KJV, the words used were "wilderness" and "solitary."  My curiosity was piqued so I pulled out my concordance* to see if the words in the KJV had the same or different root word in Greek.  According to what I found, the Greek word for both "wilderness" and "solitary" was eremos - meaning lonesome, wasteland, desert, desolate.  Interesting.

Jesus chose to separated Himself when He was deep in prayer.  He became solitary.  He didn't bring His disciples with Him.  They may have been nearby but Jesus chose a place where He wouldn't be distracted; where He could completely focus on communing with God the Father.

Imagine a desolate place in your head.  Describe that place.  What does it look like?  What does it sound like?  To me a desolate place is one doesn't have a lot of visual distractions.  A desert fits this definition for me.  Yes, deserts have great natural beauty, that I do not deny.  But my vision of a desert doesn't have a television playing in the background.  The desolate place I have imagined is basically quiet as well.  Oh, there's the hum of the fan and the sounds of the cats as they walk around the convent but I don't have the radio on nor the tv.  To me a desolate place is one with few visual and auditory distractions. 

Now that we've described desolate for ourselves, let's see what the dictionary says:
Webster's Definition of Desolate:
1: devoid of inhabitants and visitors : deserted
2: joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through or as if through separation from a loved one <a desolate widow> 
3a : showing the effects of abandonment and neglect : dilapidated <a desolate old house> b : barren,  lifeless <a desolate landscape> c : devoid of warmth, comfort, or hope : gloomy <desolate memories>
I do not disagree with the second and third definitions of desolate but I do not believe that our quiet places should fit those definitions.  We should find joy in our quiet place.  We are not separated from our loved One; we are closer to Him and falling deeper in love with Him while in our quiet place.  If we do not have regular time in our quiet place our spiritual life will definitely show the effects of neglect.  Our quiet place should provide us with comfort and hope.

I want my quiet place to be one where I can focus on what God is trying to tell me.  If I'm distracted by motion or sound, then I can't listen to Him and His message for me.   

Everyone's quiet place is different.  Sometimes mine is on the couch with no tv or radio; only the additional presence of the convent cats.   Many times my quiet place is sitting up in bed, propped up with pillows for my time of prayer and scripture reading.  For some, their quiet place might be the rocking chair on the porch or the comfy chair in the sitting room.  It could even be driving in the car.  I had a job one time that required about a half an hour of travel each way by highway.  I tended to spend most of my drives home just pouring out my heart to God, telling Him about my day and asking for His advice and help.  Honestly I miss those long drives.  One's quiet place varies for everyone.

Just as the place varies from person to person, I know that the time of one's quiet place also varies from person to person.  I know there are some who declare that one must always go to their quiet place in the morning.  Yes, there are examples in scripture of those who would go to their quiet place in the morning.  Maybe they were morning people and the fog quickly lifted from their brains allowing them to seek God's face clearly in the morning.  Some of us, well, we aren't morning people. There are also examples of night owls in scripture.  Personally, my quiet place is best visited in the evening.  For me it is the way of shedding all of the day's troubles, mistakes, and sins and handing them over to God.  Scripture talks about not going to bed angry (Ephesians 4:26) so I feel it's best for me to go to my quiet place before I go to bed so I can have a restful sleep and wake up ready to follow God's will for me the next morning.  I'm not guaranteeing a restful sleep** just because one prays at night, but if I've cast all of my cares on God before sleeping and I remember to leave those cares in His hands, about what do I need to worry?

Please find your quiet place; create it if you need to.  Just be sure to visit it on a regular basis.  :)

Sister Jane
Romans 14:8

* Yep, I'm still that girl who has a Strong's Concordance in her library.
**Personally, I need to be sure to lay off sugar in the evenings.  I get the weirdest dreams when I indulge my sweet tooth.  :)

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