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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Precious, Short-lived Solitude

Treasured friend,

I had a single moment of solitude on Saturday evening, although for a moment it didn’t look like it would come to be. The place of solitude: a commuter jet en route to Ohare airport. It was just a quick breather, mid-weekend. I’d kissed my folks goodbye only hours before—and now I was returning home. It had been an intense 36-hour whirlwind trip, where I’d written a chapter of my new Bible study book (I promise I’ll tell you more about it in another post!) while sitting in a noisy gate area, attended a curriculum planning meeting in Colorado Springs, and was now returning home to teach our Adult Bible Fellowship and play violin in the church orchestra on Sunday morning.

It was the last flight of the evening, so I expected it to be rather empty; judging from the gate area, I was right. So, I boarded early (I’d paid for the privilege) and nestled into seat 4a, folded my arms and began to doze. Suddenly my row (the three remaining seats of it) was accosted with a family of four—yes, four in three seats—little girl, dad, mom and toddler (with dirty diaper). I probably don’t have to describe what was going through my mind. I fumed silently for the duration of the boarding process.

But then, bless her, the flight attendant who was about to close the aircraft door made this announcement: “Anyone who wishes may move back in the plane, where there are empty seats.”

Up in a flash, I found myself the empty row 7 and sprawled across it.

Whoa! A blessing for which I was desperate. Restful moments spent with my head in my hands, praying for strength and wisdom and energy and courage and safety (for myself and for my aging parents while I was away).

I find myself in moments of solitude, rare as they are, seeking the company of my Savior. It is in His company that I, no matter how overwhelmed and exhausted, can breathe in enough heavenly oxygen to continue my heavy-laden schedule.

I was comforted in those moments by two statements from the Word that were close in my memory—comforted because they show me a reminder I absolutely need right away.

The first is in Mark 6:

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, but many saw them leaving and recognized them. People ran there by land from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. Mark 6:30-33 (HCSB)

The second is in Deuteronomy 31:

The LORD is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (HCSB)

Why do I find comfort here—and why do I believe that perhaps you’ll find comfort here, as well?

First, we desperately need to tell Jesus all about what’s been going on in our lives. We need to lay out before Him the things that have wrung us out like the soggy sponge I left crunched up on my kitchen counter—next to the dirty dishes. They may be good things, like those the disciples reported: I’ve been about your ministry, Lord, and I’ve seen Your hand accomplish many things! Or they may be menial or frightening or tedious things. God, I can’t take another moment of watching my loved one fade away, his mind captive to dementia, her body ravaged by disease.

In those moments, we can be heartened by Jesus’ response to the disciples—because I believe He is responding to our reports similarly today.

First, note that He didn’t say Great job. I’m impressed with all you did for Me.

Instead, here’s my paraphrase of how He did respond: You don’t even have time to eat. Let me help you take care and refresh yourself. You can’t do ministry and you won’t find strength for the day by heaping exhaustion upon exhaustion.

True, the disciples’ work was waiting (perhaps even multiplied) on the other side of that lake, but for a brief moment, Jesus’ prescription for them was respite. I’m glad Mark doesn’t give us a report about some heavy teaching Jesus gave during the trip. I suspect, if I were to imagine the scene, each disciple curled up, nibbled on his packed lunch, then cradled his neck in his pack and napped.

Like the disciples, after the food and the nap, the comfort we’ll find in the Deuteronomy passage is the one that prepares us to return to the work at hand: God hasn’t forsaken us or left us—and He never will. This work to which He’s called me, challenging and difficult though it may be, is possible for that very reason. He calls. He’s faithful. He’s here with me right now. And, my treasured friend, He’s right there with you, as well.

May you find a moment of refreshment today (even in the oddest place), drinking in Christ’s instruction and His Father’s timeless promise.



Blessings and prayers for you, my friend,

Julie

© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com