But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness

Luke 5:15-16 tells us of the success of Jesus’ ministry in Israel:  “The report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.  But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”

Here he is, in the midst of a crazy busy ministry schedule, surrounded by people who are sick and dying and desperately in need of some help.  And he’s the only one capable of meeting their needs.  There’s pressure.  There are deadlines.  There are needs and wants and…. in the midst of it all, Jesus leaves.  And he leaves often.

I have found myself in need of some wilderness time lately.  I’ve been stressed from preparations for Romania, tired of working in the schools, worn out from ministering to people… and I need desperately to get to the wilderness, alone with God.

Yesterday was my first time in a while where I got away, and it was awesome.  I went out to the “Spring Green Desert” that really isn’t much of a desert anymore as the DNR plants native grasses and gets rid of the sand.  But hardly anyone goes there, so it’s a desert in that sense.

It was good.  It was refreshing.

I was alone with my Bible.  (And a camera.)

Man, did I ever need that time away with Jesus.

Today, I didn’t get away, but I did make sure to spend extended time with God.  It was good, but I really need to get back to the wilderness.  There’s something powerful about removing yourself physically from distractions, from people, from work, even from the reminders of these things.  And this is what my spirit thrives on.

I love God’s promise in Isaiah 55:1-3.  This is for you and for me:

Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink–even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk–it’s all free!
Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.
Come to me with your ears wide open.
Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

I think also of Psalm 63.  Let verses 1 through 8 sink into your spirit and feed your passion for Jesus:

O God, you are my God.
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you.
My whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

I have seen you in your sanctuary
And gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself.
How I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you.
Your strong right hand holds me securely.

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